Excerpt from CANTIGA 2: The Word

In the beginning
pp -before spacetime-
ppppp was the Word
All that is then is true.
pppppppppppp Poem.
Things exist in the form of word.
All was night, etc.
ppppppp There was no sun, nor moon, nor people, nor animals, nor plants.
The word was. (Amorous word.)
Mystery and at the same time expression of that mystery.
What is and at the same time expresses what it is.
"When in the beginning there was not yet anyone
ppppppppppppppp he created the words (naikino)
and gave them to us, just like the yucca"
in that anonymous yellowing translation from the German
of a part of that massive book by Presuss
which I came across in Bogota's Museum of Ethnography
ppppppp Spanish translation of Presuss translating from Witoto into German:
ppp The word in their songs, which he gave them, they say,
is the same with which he made the rain
pppppppppp (he made it rain with his word and a drum),
the dead go to a region where "they speak words well"
downriver: the river is very big,
ppppppp (what they've heard of the Amazon according to Presuss)
there they haven't died again
ppppppp and they are well downriver without dying.
The day will come when we will head downriver ourselves.
In the beginning then was the word.
The one that is and communicates what it is.
ppppppppppppp That is:
the one that totally expresses itself.
ppppppppp Secret that surrenders itself. A yes.
ppppppp He in himself is a yes.
Reality revealed.
ppppppppp Eternal reality which eternally reveals itself.
At the beginning . . .
pppppppppppppp Before spacetime,
before there was before,
at the beginning, when there wasn't even beginning,
at the beginning,
ppppppppppppp was the reality of the word.
When all was night, when
all beings were still obscure, before being beings,
a voice existed, a clear word,
pppppppppp a song in the night.

In the beginning was the Song.
pppppp Singing he created the cosmos.
And for that reason all things sing.
They don't dance except through words (through which the world was
ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp created)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

We are word
pppppppp in a world born of the word
and which exists only as something spoken.
ppppppp A secret of two lovers in the night.
The firmament announces it as with neon letters.
Each night swapping secrets with another night.
People are words.
pppppppppp And thus one is not if one is not dialogue.
And so then each one is two
or is not.
Each person is for another person.
ppppppppppp I am not I rather you are I!
One is the I of a you
ppppppppppp or one is nothing.
pppppppppp I am nothing more than you otherwise if not I am not!
I am yes. I am Yes to a you, to a you for me,
ppppppppppp to a you for me.
People are dialogue, I say,
if not their words would touch nothing
like waves in the cosmos picked up by no radio,
like messages to uninhabited planets,
or a bellowing in the lunar void
ppppppp or a telephone call to an empty house.
(A person alone does not exist.)
pppppppp I tell you again, my love:
ppppppppp I am you and you are me.
ppppppppppppp I am: love.

Translated from the Spanish by John Lyons
From COSMIC CANTICLE (Curbstone Press, 1993)


Poems by Ernesto Cardenal

Questions by the Lake

Economic Brief

Excerpt from CANTIGA 2: The Word