“Los Nadies”/”The Nobodies” by Eduardo Galeano

These days I am swooning over “The Book of Embraces” by the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano (whose “Memory of Fire,” a trilogy poetically chronicling the history of Latin America, I earlier swallowed in great, swift gulps). Here is a video by Caleb González of a poem from “The Book of Embraces,” with music by the great Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia. Below is the English translation by Galeano’s longtime translator, Cedric Belfrage, followed by the original Spanish. ~ Diana Rico

The Nobodies

Fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, and nobodies dream of escaping poverty: that one magical day good luck will suddenly rain down on them–will rain down in buckets. But good luck doesn’t rain down yesterday, today, tomorrow, or ever. Good luck doesn’t even fall in a fine drizzle, no matter how hard the nobodies summon it, even if their left hand is tickling, or if they begin the new day with their right foot, or start the new year with a change of brooms.

The nobodies: nobody’s children, owners of nothing. The nobodies: the no ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits, dying through life, screwed every which way.

Who are not, but could be.
Who don’t speak languages, but dialects.
Who don’t have religions, but superstitions.
Who don’t create art, but handicrafts.
Who don’t have culture, but folklore.
Who are not human beings, but human resources.
Who do not have faces, but arms.
Who do not have names, but numbers.
Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the police blotter of the local paper.
The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.

Los Nadies

Sueñan las pulgas con comprarse un perro y sueñan los nadies con salir de pobres, que algún mágico día llueva de pronto la buena suerte, que llueva a cántaros la buena suerte; pero la buena suerte no llueve ayer, ni hoy, ni mañana, ni nunca, ni en llovizna cae del cielo la buena suerte, por mucho que los nadies la llamen y aunque les pique la mano izquierda, o se levanten con el pie derecho, o empiecen el año cambiando de escoba.

Los nadies: los hijos de nadie, los dueños de nada. Los nadies: los ningunos, los niguneados, corriendo la liebre, muriendo la vida, jodidos, rejodidos.

Que no son, aunque sean.
Que no hablan idiomas, sino dialectos.
Que no profesan religiones, sino supersticiones.
Que no hacen arte, sino artesanías.
Que no practican cultura, sino folklore.
Que no son seres humanos, sino recursos humanos.
Que no tienen cara, sino brazos.
Que no tienen nombre, sino número.
Que no figuran en la historia universal, sino en la crónica roja de la prensa local.
Los nadies, que cuestan menos que la bala que los mata.

Video from YouTube.com.

About Diana Rico

Check out her fabulosity at http://www.dianarico.com.
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8 Responses to “Los Nadies”/”The Nobodies” by Eduardo Galeano

  1. But . . . the meek shall inherit the Earth. And really, to somebody, they are alguienes (somebodies).

  2. And what the “somebodies” think is enough for them, never is.
    Philip Levine, a real poet of the working class and a god of language and true empathy, wrote of a factory worker, stopped for a moment in the parking lot under the sky, the winds, said something like — he had come to live for these suspended moments.

    Before i knew if I would have a chance to begin to become myself, I knew that truth — the truth of those suspended moments — outside of the time in which I served as a nobody, lived in the streets, was not a person to so many in a merciless city, I was living for those suspended moments. They were life outside of the life I was being ground down into.

    This is beautiful. Reminds me of Pedro Pietri’s Puerto Rican Obituary.

    Galeano, oh god we are so lucky to have him.
    Thank you, Diana, as ever.
    I have the Book of Embraces on my shelf as well, and haven’t yet had time to read the whole thing. I will.

  3. John C says:

    so beautiful and moving, like virtually everything Galeano has ever written! More poignantly than anyone (to my knowledge) he captures & conveys the beauty and horror, the sublime and the tragic, of human existence; please check this out at your leisure. A friend sent it to me, which eventually led me to this page: https://vimeo.com/68994534

    • Diana Rico says:

      John C: Agreed re: Galeano’s writings. His Memory of Fire trilogy changed my perspective on so much. Thank you for that link–the animated film is beautiful and poignant!

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