Sunday, November 04, 2007

The voice of the people. Preguntas sobre Dios

When in my teens, life took me to Spain, where I perhaps first became aware of the similarities between all peoples.
I remember learning a song, sung by the miners and trade unionists of Asturias, in Northern Spain.
The song had come to them, from the miners and activists of South America, and is one that has stayed with me throughout my life.

This song waswritten by Atahualpa Yupanqui, (Argentina 1908-1992). Atahualpa was a poet, and a communist, who also took to arms against the government.
The song is sung by Victor Jara, (Chile, 1932-1973), also a campaigner and activist, who was tortured, (they broke every bone in his hands, then mockingly suggested he play the guitar.) and then brutally machine-gunned by pro-american forces during the coup de etat that toppled the socialist Allende.

An aproximate translation by Michael Friedman.

One day I asked:
grandfather, where is God?
My grandfather became sad
and didn't answer me.

My grandfather died in the fields,
without prayer or confession.
And the Indians buried him,
accompanied by bamboo flute and drums

In time, I asked,
father, what do you know of God?
My father became serious,
and never answered my question.

My father died in the mines,
with neither doctor, nor protection.
The color of miners' blood,
is upon the gold of the rich!

My brother lives in the woods,
yet has never seen a flower!
Sweat, malaria, serpents,
that's the life of a wood-cutter!

And don't bother to ask him
if he knows where God is.
By his house, has never passed
such an important man!

I sing my songs on the byways,
and when I'm in prison,
I hear the voices of the people,
who sing far better than I.

There is a theme on this earth
more important than God.
And it is that no-one should cough up blood
so another may live better.

Does God watch over the poor?
Maybe yes, and maybe no.
But he surely lunches,
at the table of the rich.

The images in the video seem to show exactly the sentiment sought by both the writer and the singer.
That religion and its proponents are no more than sychophantic parasites.

It is a song that has been with me for over thirty years, and I trust you will keep both the song and the sentiment alive, the spirit of the singer calls out to us all.
The words speak for the millions of poor who have died for the sake of the rich.


The Future Was Yesterday said...

"The words speak for the millions of poor who have died for the sake of the rich."
So many songs have been written for the oppressed, but the most common is the wail of poverty.

landsker said...

True indeed Mr Future,
"Without labour there is no capital!" (Lincoln, Marx, Engels.)
But then the greed of capitalism wants the labour and resources as cheap as possible, and poverty is a lever that lowers the price of both.

Casdok said...

It certainly does

Respectable Citizen said...

Nice blog!

Thank you for the comments on ours - I will reply when I get a moment!

You might enjoy the poetry section of our blog:

best wishes,

Adam Johannes