The main headline in today's online version of El País (perhaps Spain's number one paper) is the news of Mario Benedetti's death at the age of eighty-eight.
In spite of having published numerous novels and essays, this Uruguayan is perhaps best-known for his poetry. Exile and love are his main themes, the former forced on him by political repression. Benedetti is capable of remarkable turns of phrase, of sustained narrative strength within a poem and of achieving the heady mix of politics, metaphysics and reflections on daily life.
Leafing once more through my copy of his collected poems, Los Espejos Las Sombras, his brilliance makes it difficult to pick out just one quote, but here goes...
"...cantamos porque el grito no es bastante..."
"...we sing because shouting is not enough..."
Lyricism and commitment in a single line. Benedetti might have died, but his poetry remains to mark both the anguish and hope of a whole generation who suffered terribly under Latin American dictatorships.
A month or two at most, I told myself; a place to catch my breath. The long, dry haul of my body’s bulk along the shingle, up the beach, the dragged sl...