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The South Also Exists

(English translation of 'El Sur También Existe' by Mario Benedetti)

With its worship of steel
its giant chimneys
its covert wisemen
its siren song
its neon skies
its christmas sales
its cults of god the father
and military epaulettes
with its keys to the kingdom
the north is the one in command

but here down
below ever-present hunger
rootles through the bitter fruit
of other people's decisions
while time passes
and parades pass
and other things get done
that the north permits
with enduring hope
the south also exists

with its preachers
its gases that poison
its chicago school
its land owners
with their luxury trappings and
weak bones
its depleted defences
its defence spend
spent on invasions
the north is the one in command

but here down
below hidden away
are men and women
who know what to hold onto
making the most of the sun
and also eclipses
setting aside the useless
and using what works
with its age-old faith
the south also exists

with its french horn
and its swedish academy
its american sauce
and its english tools
with all its missiles
and its encyclopedias
its star wars
and its lavish malice
with all its accolades
the north is the one in command

but here down below
close to the roots
is where memory
forgets nothing
and there are people living
and dying doing their utmost
and so between them they achieve
what was believed impossible
to make the whole world know
that the south also exists.

For more translations of poems by Mario Benedetti, go to Translations.

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