A foul battle was fought at Piribebuy,
“López organizó un nuevo ejército,
Casi por milagro, con niños, ancianos, mutilados, heridos y mujeres.
Los vencedores incendiaron el hospital,
Repleto de heridos y degollaron al comandante de
La plaza mayor. Fueron contenidos de niños
Disfrazados con largas barbas
Y que se dejaron matar uno por uno.”*
Hitler had little to learn from this guy,
Who said, expiring, “Muero con la patria.”**
All about territory, no thought of human
Improvement. Just frontiers and power -
A small anticipation of the First World War
In Europe. But how peaceful is
Piribebuy today, as if left alone
For at least a century.
That was another day, another year,
Here I study that, a little laboratory
Of insanity, that can however be explained;
At least, the circumstances that made such actions
Possible or likely, but not inevitable,
Can be interpreted, if not determined.
Remember Kant`s argument about Free Will.
There are choices, alternatives;
You can even face against a fence,
Or a wall of flame, a tidal wave
Of apparent inevitability.
You can be one voice shouting through a hell,
To reach ears in another epoch,
That hear, and agree a little.
To whistle through the napalm, as it were,
Or cry foul, at each massacre of Palestinians
In their own land. You can say:
“Principles of Justice should be universally applied,”
Even though you will be immediately drowned
In rotten tomatoes and accusations
Of Communism and Subversion.
Not much fun it is, and little glory
Accrues to you, but at least you do not die
In your deepest soul, and can feel
A friendship with something warm.
And so, in flabby freedom I,
Persist in insisting something still,
For what else can I do?
“I will die with my dreams.”
*Lopez organized a new army
As if by miracle: children, old men, the crippled and wounded, and women.
The victors set fire to a hospital
Full of wounded soldiers, and beheaded the commander
In the main plaza. They murdered
Boys disguised as men with beards,
Putting them to death one by one.
**I die together with my country!
(My translations from Efraím Cardozo.)