The Great Spite / El Salvador Will Be—by Roque Dalton (1935-1975)


Roque Dalton was assassinated on 10th May, 1975, four days before his 40th birthday. Today, 14th May, 2015, marks what would be his 80th birthday. 


para la versión en español haga clic aquí 


My country you don’t exist
you’re just my bad silhouette
the enemy word that I believed

I used to think you were just so small
you couldn’t manage both
North and South
but now I know you don’t exist
and what’s more it seems nobody needs you
no mothers are heard speaking of you

That makes me happy
because it proves I made up a country
though I’ll end up in the madhouse

So I’m a little god at your expense

(I mean: since I’m your expat
you’re my ex-patria)


El Salvador will be a beautiful
and, without exaggeration, serious nation
when the working class and peasantry
fertilize her comb her powder her
cure her historical hangover
tidy her reconstruct her
and set her in motion.

The problem is that today El Salvador
has about a thousand barbs and a hundred
thousand disproportions
a zillion calluses and some gumboils
cancers husks dandruff filth
sores fractures seizures stench.

She’ll need a bit of machete
sandpaper spinning-wheel penicillin
bathrooms with toilet seats
kisses gunpowder.

translations by Dylan Brennan