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Mulatto

(English translation of 'Mulato' by Mario Benedetti)

In the german bar run by an andalusian
in puerto pollensa (mallorca/baleares)
there’s a little bird that sings like the gods
or at least as they say the gods sang
before the end of ideologies
they call it mulatto
because it’s a canary crossed with a goldfinch
or a goldfinch with a canary
who can tell
the truth is that its trill
is blue red green yellow sky-blue white
its trill is a compendium of energies and colors
of bird pride and cage solitude
it’s the same for us
we exiles that have made ourselves mulattoes
we are a cross between stockholm and buenos aires
montevideo and madrid
paris and valparaiso
pernambuco and berlin
we don’t have a trill but if we had
it would be a blue red green yellow sky-blue white
compendium of energies and colors
of émigré pride and cage solitude
because it’s obvious that we are prisoners
of the dual nostalgia of mulattoes
we pass through an alley or tunnel or strait
where we miss what’s waiting for us ahead
and later we'll miss what’s been left behind
and we would like to weep like the gods
or at least as the gods wept
before the end of ideologies

Note: The poem was written by Benedetti in Mallorca. He lived on the island from 1980 to 1983 and afterwards, although living mainly in Madrid, he would spend his summers in the seaside resort of Puerto de Pollensa for the next fifteen years. This was during his period of exile from his home country of Uruguay.

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

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