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The South Also Exists

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

With its steely ritual
its great chimneys
its secret sages
its siren song
its neon skies
its christmas sales
its cult of god the father
and epaulettes
with its keys to the kingdom
the north is the one in charge

but here down
down everywhere the hungry
view the bitter fruit
of what others decide
while time passes
and parades pass
and other things are done
that the north doesn’t ban
with enduring hope
the south also exists

with its preachers
its poisonous gases
its chicago school
its owners of land
with luxury clothes and
feeble bones
its worn-out defences
its defence spend
on launching invasions
the North is the one in charge

but here down
down hidden away
are the 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 made spanners
with all its missiles
and its encyclopedias
its star wars
and its affluent anger
with all its awards
the north is the one in charge

but here down down
close to the roots
is where the memory
doesn't blank out any memory
and there are those who die for something
and there are those who live for something
and between them they achieve
what was supposed to be 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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