Miguel Hernandez

In trains possessed by a passion for wandering
In coal and iron that provokes and moves,
In airplanes with, tight, sharp plumage
I travel the nation of labour and snow.

From the length of Russia, from its tender windows
Comes the deep voice of machines and hands,
Saying to women: Here are your sisters,
And bursting upon men: These are your brothers.

Just look: It covers your vision in truth.
Just listen: Blood echoing in your ears.
From each breath comes a fiery air.
So many hearts together in pairs.

Oh, comrade Stalin, from a people of beggars
You have made a nation of men who shake their brows,
Shattering dungeons, and bringing forth wheat,
Through great effort, in its immensity.

From men who once hardly dared to live,
Mouths bound and dreams enslaved,
From bodies that groaned, hesitated, creaked,
You have forged a mass of iron.

You’ve forged a kind of foundation,
Which observes the conduct of that most precious of metals,
Perfects the engine, signals the hammer
The propeller, health, with a proud finger.

Ground to powder by the tsars, the royal villains:
Russia, snowed-in by hunger, pain and bondage.
Yesterday her children went defeated to their deaths,
Today they proclaim life and scorn graveyards.

Yesterday they were rivers melting ice,
Burned by the blood of the workers.
Today they discover industries, machinery, desires,
And sing surrounded by factories and flowers.

And the slow elderly ones carrying the Tsar’s
Brand on their shoulders, break pace,
By cheerfully plucking stars from their beards
Before the glow that rejuvenates its end.

<>Huts become granite houses.
The heart is naked among truths.
And as a true picture of things unheard,
Flocks of cities bloom from nowhere.

Russian youth advances and grows
Like the rhino’s sharpened weapon.
Metallurgy roars blissfully from the throat
And hammers vibrate at the foot of mountains.

With inexhaustible gold recumbent cows
Milked by miners in the Ural Mountains,
Russia builds a happy and transparent world
For men full of fraternal impulses.

Today as my homeland is pierced by bayonets
Wielded by cursed, clumsy legions,
Russian sunflowers, like blind planets
Spin their rays to face Spain.

<>Here is Russia, all in uniform
Protecting children annihilated by Italy and
Germany under the sacred dream,
And torn from their very mother’s womb.

Dormitories filled with Spanish children: Sparks
Of innocence shed by Madrid, Valencia,
Mussolini, Hitler, the two bastards,
The lives they destroyed. Innocence stained.

<>Fragile bedrooms in the clear light of day,
Suddenly bloodied, bristling with splinters.
Oh, if these bedrooms could hurl down
On those two heads and four cheeks!

“It will” Lenin warns me from his living tomb.
With his foot of marble and bronze quiet voice,
As he quietly contemplates the waters
Flowing in human form behind his skeleton.

<>Russia and Spain, united as fraternal forces
Will close the jaws of the war.
And only tractors and apples will be seen,
Bread and youth on earth.

Translated from the Spanish by Alfonso Casal

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