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“Todo derecho en el mundo ha sido logrado por la lucha, todo precepto jurídico importante ha tenido primero que ser arrancado a aquéllos que le resisten, y todo derecho, tanto el derecho de un pueblo como el de un individuo, presupone la disposición constante para su afirmación. El derecho no es mero pensamiento, sino fuerza viviente. Por eso lleva la justicia en una mano la balanza con la que pesa el derecho, en la otra la espada, con la que lo mantiene. La espada sin balanza es la violencia bruta, la balanza sin la espada es la impotencia del derecho. Ambas van juntas, y un estado jurídico perfecto impera sólo allí donde la fuerza con que la justicia mantiene la espada, equivale a la pericia con que maneja la balanza”.

Rudolf von Ihering, La Lucha por el derecho

Poesía Vertical. Poema 51

Algún día encontraré una palabra
que penetre en tu vientre y lo fecunde,
que se pare en tu seno
como una mano abierta y cerrada al mismo tiempo.

Hallaré una palabra
que detenga tu cuerpo y lo dé vuelta,
que contenga tu cuerpo
y abra tus ojos como un dios sin nubes
y te usa tu saliva
y te doble las piernas.
Tú tal vez no la escuches
o tal vez no la comprendas.
No será necesario.
Irá por tu interior como una rueda
recorriéndote al fin de punta a punta,
mujer mía y no mía,
y no se detendrá ni cuando mueras.

Roberto Juarroz

Poesía Vertical. Poema 46

No debiera ser posible
dormirse sin tener cerca
una voz para poderse despertar.

No debiera ser posible
dormirse sin tener cerca
la propia voz para poderse despertar.

No debiera ser posible
dormirse sin despertar
en el momento justo en que el sueño se encuentra
con esos ojos abiertos
que ya no necesitan dormir más.

Roberto Juarroz

Poesía vertical. Poema 37

Mientras haces cualquier cosa,
alguien está muriendo.

Mientras te lustras los zapatos,
mientras odias,
mientras le escribes una carta prolija
a tu amor único o no único.

Y aunque pudieras llegar a no hacer nada,
alguien estaría muriendo,
tratando en vano de juntar todos los rincones,
tratando en vano de no mirar fijo a la pared.

Y aunque te estuvieras muriendo,
alguien más estaría muriendo,
a pesar de tu legítimo deseo
de morir un minuto con exclusividad.

Por eso, si te preguntan por el mundo,
responde simplemente: alguien está muriendo.

Roberto Juarroz

Poesía Vertical. Poema 15 

El amor empieza cuando se rompen los dedos
y se dan vuelta las solapas del traje,
cuando ya no hace falta pero tampoco sobra
la vejez de mirarse,
cuando la torre de los recuerdos, baja o alta,
se agacha hasta la sangre.

El amor empieza cuando Dios termina
y cuando el hombre cae,
mientras las cosas, demasiado eternas,
comienzan a gastarse,
y los signos, las bocas y los signos,
se muerden mutuamente en cualquier parte.

El amor empieza
cuando la luz se agrieta como un muerto disfrazado
sobre la soledad irremediable.

Porque el amor es simplemente eso:
la forma del comienzo
tercamente escondida
detrás de los finales.

Roberto Juarroz

O tell me the truth about love

Some say love’s a little boy,
And some say it’s a bird,
Some say it makes the world go around,
Some say that’s absurd,
And when I asked the man next-door,
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn’t do.

Does it look like a pair of pyjamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It’s quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I’ve found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
It wasn’t over there;
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton’s bracing air.
I don’t know what the blackbird sang,
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn’t in the chicken-run,
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing?
Does it spend all its time at the races,
or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of its own about money?
Does it think Patriotism enough?
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I’m picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

W.H. Auden (audio version)

Strange Meeting

It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,—
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand fears that vision’s face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.

“I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now… .”

Wilfred Owen (audio version)

“I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world”.

Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

“All left-wing parties in the highly industrialized countries are at bottom a sham, because they make it their business to fight against something which they do not really wish to destroy. They have internationalist aims, and at the same time they struggle to keep up a standard of life with which those aims are incompatible. We all live by robbing Asiatic coolies, and those of us who are ‘enlightened’ all maintain that those coolies ought to be set free; but our standard of living, and hence our ‘enlightenment’, demands that the robbery shall continue. A humanitarian is always a hypocrite…”.

George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling

“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?”.

George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

“Cultures of memory are organized by round numbers, intervals of ten; but somehow the remembrance of the dead is easier when the numbers are not round, when the final digit is not a zero. So within the Holocaust, it is perhaps easier to think of 780,863 different people at Treblinka: where the three at the end might be Tamara and Itta Willenberg, whose clothes clung together after they were gassed, and Ruth Dorfmann, who was able to cry with the man who cut her hair before she entered the gas chamber. Or it might be easier to imagine the one person at the end of the 33,761 Jews shot at Babi Yar: Dina Pronicheva’s mother, let us say, although in fact every single Jew killed there could be that one, must be that one, is that one”.

Timothy Synder, Bloodlands

“Here, perhaps, is a purpose for history, somewhere between the record of death and its constant reinterpretation. Only a history of mass killing can unite the numbers and the memories. Without history, the memories become private, which today means national; and the numbers become public, which is to say an instrument in the international competition for martyrdom. Memory is mine and I have the right to do with it as I please; numbers are objective and you must accept my counts whether you like them or not. Such reasoning allows a nationalist to hug himself with one arm and strike his neighbor with the other. After the end of the Second World War, and then again after the end of communism, nationalists throughout the bloodlands (and beyond) have indulged in the quantitative exaggeration of victimhood, thereby claiming for themselves the mantle of innocence”.

Timothy Synder, Bloodlands

“Our contemporary culture of commemoration takes for granted that memory prevents murder. If people died in such large numbers, it is tempting to think, they must have died for something of transcendent value, which can be revealed, developed, and preserved in the right sort of political remembrance. The transcendent then turns out to be the national. The millions of victims must have died so that the Soviet Union could win a Great Patriotic War, or America a good war. Europe had to learn its pacifist lesson, Poland had to have its legend of freedom, Ukraine had to have its heroes, Belarus had to prove its virtue, Jews had to fulfill a Zionist destiny. Yet all of these later rationalizations, though they convey important truths about national politics and national psychologies, have little to do with memory as such. The dead are remembered, but the dead do not remember. Someone else had the power, and someone else decided how they died. Later on, someone else still decides why. When meaning is drawn from killing, the risk is that more killing would bring more meaning”.

Timothy Synder, Bloodlands

“The best-recalled Leningrad diary of a girl is that of eleven-year-old Tania Savicheva, which reads in its entirety as follows: ´Zhenia died on December 28th at 12:30 A.M. 1941 Grandma died on January 25th 3:00 P.M. 1942 Leka died on March 5th at 5:00 am. 1942 Uncle Vasya died on April 13th at 2:00 after midnight 1942 Uncle Lesha died on May 10th at 4:00 pm 1942 Mother died on May 13th 7:30 am 1942 Savichevs died Everyone died Only Tania is left´. Tania Savicheva died in 1944”.

Timothy Synder, Bloodlands

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