Remembering septembers past: Victor Jara

On September 16th, Victor Jara was killed five days after the 1973 coup d’état that brought to an end the government of Salvador Allende. He was among the thousands that died at the hands of Augusto Pinochet’s violent authority. But Jara’s death is a testimony also to the need of any such authority to murder beauty, the beauty of Jara’s art. He was musician, poet, director of theatre and political militant. Before falling before a hail of bullets fired by machine gun, he would be tortured daily, his fingers crushed with rifle buts, and his hands cut off, to the words of his torturers, “Play guitar now”. His body would then be dumped by the side of a railway, identified latter by his wife Joan.

Today, the Chilean courts have formally accused three former military of the crime of Jara’s murder. But if Jara is remembered today, it is above all because his art remains the resistance of beauty.

For Victor Jara …

Te recuerdo Amanda

Te recuerdo Amanda
la calle mojada
corriendo a la fabrica donde trabajaba Manuel.

La sonrisa ancha, la lluvia en el pelo,
no importaba nada
ibas a encontrarte con el,
con el, con el, con el, con el.

Son cinco minutos
la vida es eterna,
en cinco minutos.

Suena la sirena,
de vuelta al trabajo
y tu caminando lo iluminas todo
los cinco minutos
te hacen florecer.

Te recuerdo Amanda
la calle mojada
corriendo a la fabrica
donde trabajaba Manuel.

La sonrisa ancha
la lluvia en el pelo
no importaba nada,
ibas a encontrarte con el,
con el, con el, con el, con el.

Que partió a la sierra
que nunca hizo daño,
que partió a la sierra
y en cinco minutos,
quedó destrozado

Suenan las sirenas
de vuelta al trabajo
muchos no volvieron
tampoco Manuel.

Te recuerdo Amanda,
la calle mojada
corriendo a la fábrica,
donde trabajaba Manuel.

I remember you, Amanda

I remember you, Amanda
The wet street
running to the factory where Manuel worked.

The wide smile, the rain in your hair,
nothing mattered
you were going to meet with him,
with him, with him, with him.

They were five minutes
life is eternal
in five minutes.

The whistle blew
to return to work
and you walking you lit up everything
those five minutes
made you blossom.

I remember you, Amanda
The wet street
running to the factory where Manuel worked.

The wide smile, the rain in your hair,
nothing mattered
you were going to meet with him,
with him, with him, with him.

And he took to the mountains to fight
He had never hurt a fly
and in five minutes
it was all wiped out.

The whistle blew
to return to work
many didn’t go back
neither did Manuel.

I remember you, Amanda
The wet street
running to the factory where Manuel worked

Plegaria a un labrador

Levántate y mira la montaña
de donde viene el viento, el sol y el agua.
Tú que manejas el curso de los ríos,
tú que sembraste el vuelo de tu alma.

Levántate y mírate las manos
para crecer estréchala a tu hermano.
Juntos iremos unidos en la sangre
hoy es el tiempo que puede ser mañana.

Líbranos de aquel que nos domina
en la miseria.
Tráenos tu reino de justicia
e igualdad.
Sopla como el viento la flor
de la quebrada.
Limpia como el fuego
el cañón de mi fusil.
Hágase por fin tu voluntad
aquí en la tierra.
Danos tu fuerza y tu valor
al combatir.
Sopla como el viento la flor
de la quebrada.
Limpia como el fuego
el cañón de mi fusil.

Levántate y mírate las manos
para crecer estréchala a tu hermano.
Juntos iremos unidos en la sangre
ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.
Amén

Prayer to a Labourer

Stand up.
Look at the mountain,
source
of the wind, the sun, the water.
You who change
the course of rivers,
who with the seed sows
the flight of your soul.

Stand up,
look at your hands,
take your brother’s hand
so you can grow,
we’ll go together,
united by blood,
the future
can begin today.

Deliver us from the master who keeps us
in misery.
thy will be done, at last,
on earth.

Blow like the wind blows
the wild flower of the mountain pass.
clean the barrel of my gun
like fire.

Thy will be done, at last,
on earth,
give us the strength and courage
to struggle.

Blow like the wind blows
the wild flower of the mountain pass.
clean the barrel of my gun
like fire.

Stand up,
look at your hands,
take your brother’s hand
so you can grow.
We’ll go together,
united by blood,
now and in the hour
of our death. Amen.
Amen.
Amen.

El hombre es un creador

Igualito que otros tantos
de niño aprendí a sudar,
no conocí las escuelas
ni supe lo que es jugar.
Me sacaban de la cama
por la mañana temprano
y al laíto ‘e mi papá
fui creciendo en el trabajo.

Con mi pura habilidad
me las di de carpintero
de estucador y albañil
de gásfiter y tornero,
puchas que sería güeño
haber tenío instrucción
porque de todo elemento
el hombre es un creador.

Yo le levanto una casa
o le construyo un camino
le pongo sabor al vino
le saco humito a la fábrica.
Voy al fondo de la tierra
y conquisto las alturas,
camino por las estrellas
y hago surco a la espesura.

Aprendí el vocabulario
del amo, dueño y patrón,
me mataron tantas veces
por levantarles la voz,
pero del suelo me paro,
porque me prestan las manos,
porque ahora no estoy solo,
porque ahora somos tantos.

Man is a creator

Like lots of other children
I was taught to sweat,
I didn’t know what school was,
didn’t know how to play.
They dragged me out of bed
early every morning,
and alongside my Dad
I grew up as a worker.

Because I was pretty handy
I got by as a carpenter,
a plasterer and a brick-layer,
a plumber and a mechanic.
Hey! It would have been useful
to have had some sort of schooling.
That would have been one more thing to use –
Man as a creator.

I can build you a house,
I can lay down a road,
make wine that tastes good
and keep a factory smoking,
I go down to the depths of the earth
I conquer all the peaks,
I walk among the stars
and carve furrows all over the earth.

I learned the language
of my masters and bosses,
they killed me over and over
for daring to raise my voice,
but I get up off the ground again
helped by the hands of others.
For now I’m not alone.
Now there are so many of us.

Cuando voy al trabajo

Cuando voy al trabajo
pienso en ti,
por las calles del barrio
pienso en ti,
cuando miro los rostros
tras el vidrio empañado
sin saber quienes son, donde van.
Pienso en ti,
mi vida, pienso en ti.
En ti, compañera de mis días
y del porvenir
de las horas amargas
y la dicha de poder vivir,
laborando el comienzo de una historia
sin saber el fin.

Cuando el turno termina
y la tarde va
estirando su sombra
por el tijeral
y al volver de la obra
discutiendo entre amigos
razonando cuestiones
de este tiempo y destino,
pienso en ti
mi vida, pienso en ti.
En ti, compañera de mis días
y del porvenir
de las horas amargas
y la dicha de poder vivir,
laborando el comienzo de una historia
sin saber el fin.

Cuando llego a la casa
estas ahí,
y amarramos los sueños…
Laborando el comienzo de una historia
sin saber el fin.

On My Way to Work

On my way to work
I think of you,
through the streets of the town
I think of you,
when I look at the faces
through steamy windows
not knowing who they are, where they go…
I think of you
my love, I think of you
of you, compañera of my life
and of the future
of the bitter hours and the happiness
of being able to live
working at the beginning of a story
without knowing the end.

When the day’s work is over
And the evening comes
Lengthening its shadow
Over the roofs we have made
And returning from our labour
Discussing among friends
Reasoning out things
Of this time and destiny
I think of you
my love, I think of you.
Of you, compañera of my life
and of the future,
of the bitter hours and the happiness
of being able to live,
working at the beginning of a story
without knowing the end.

When I come home
you are there
and we weave our dreams together…
Working at the beginning of a story
without knowing the end.

Manifesto

Yo no canto por cantar
ni por tener buena voz,
canto porque la guitarra
tiene sentido y razón.

Tiene corazón de tierra
y alas de palomita,
es como el agua bendita,
santigua glorias y penas.

Aquí se encajó mi canto,
como dijera Violeta,
guitarra trabajadora
con olor a primavera.

Que no es guitarra de ricos
ni cosa que se parezca.
Mi canto es de los andamios
para alcanzar las estrellas.

Que el canto tiene sentido
cuando palpita en las venas…
del que morirá cantando,
… las verdades verdaderas.

No las lisonjas fugaces
ni las famas extranjeras
sino el canto de una lonja
hasta el fondo de la tierra.

Ahí donde llega todo
y donde todo comienza,
canto que ha sido valiente,
siempre será canción nueva,
siempre será canción nueva,
siempre será canción nueva…

Manifesto

I don’t sing for the love of singing,
or because I have a good voice.
I sing because my guitar
has both feeling and reason.

It has a heart of earth
and the wings of a dove,
it is like holy water,
blessing joy and grief.

My song has found a purpose
as Violeta would say.
Hardworking guitar,
with a smell of spring.
My guitar is not for the rich
no, nothing like that.
My song is of the ladder
we are building to reach the stars.

For a song has meaning
when it beats in the veins
of a man who will die singing,
truthfully singing his songs.
My song is not for fleeting praise
nor to gain foreign fame,
it is for this narrow country
to the very depth of the earth.
There, where everything comes to rest
and where everything begins,
song which has been brave song
will be forever new.

 

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