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PEOPLE Make a world of difference ! Were proud of our employees and their contributions to your success and ours. Call us for quality printing, binding, mailing and data processing services. Get to know the people at Futuia. FUTUM COMMUNICATIONS. INC. P.O. Box 17427 Austin, TX 78760-7427 389-1500 Fauces half-agape as though to eat each other. Or belly against belly, he ravishes her. Or they explore each other’s thorax, elytrons, with their antennae. Kissing with their jaws. The delicate nibbling at her silky neck feathers. Mysterious chemical changes make them court each other. It is the “copulation of contraries,” which for Cardenal is the cosmos, that this poetpriest catalogs most imaginatively and musically. Andit was for the “cosmic sexual act” that he “renounced those girls,” choosing instead to give himself to the Godhead, who the poet feels is “kind of lonely in the universe. / God searching for love like me.” To be united “with the One,” Cardenal says, “I surrendered my little bag of illusion, my handful of dreams.” When Cosmic Canticle touches on the poet’s personal decision to enter the priesthood at 18 and to leave the girl he still remembers with longing and tenderness, the poem achieves intimacy and makes of Cardenal something of an epic hero, but it is obvious that for him only God exists in that role, along with figures from his native Nicaragua who sacrificed themselves for the victorious Revolution. Another epic tradition observed by Cardenal is the one that defines the form as an expression of a national history. In this regard, the poet quotes Fray Bartolome de las Casas in Cantiga 15, which is entitled “Nostalgia for Paradise.” After relating the atomic theory of Democritus to “Adam and Eve who engendered the rest of the atoms” following the creation of the hydrogen atom \(“the first, / the simplest of all: / a single negative electron around a positive and Paradise \(including Dante’ s and of the discovery of America, concluding with Fray Bartolome’s reference to Nicaragua as the ‘most felicitous’ land.” The poet continues quoting from this 16thcentury priest: “Nicaragua is a paradise of the Lord. It is many delights and joy for the human kind. So much fertilitie, so much abundance, so much amenitie and freshness, so much healthyness, so many fruiting plants, laid out like the gardens of the cyties of Castylle.” This contrasts dramatically with the reality of the poet’s war-torn land, where young martyrs die for freedom, where whole libraries are burnt, and where from an airplane in danger of being shot down by the rightwing Contras, Cardenal looks down as an exile on “the beloved geography denied to me . . . Esteli: A grim and blackish quadrilateral amid green fields. Not the white and multi-colors of tiny houses: but a carbon-colored, ashen stain like a charred body. In writing an epic tribute to his native land, Cardenal again relies on the epic tradition of the catalog to recall those Nicaraguan poets who have meant so much to him, as well as those like Pablo Antonio Cuadra with whom he has differed. Ruben recognized poet of Latin America, appears frequently in this epic to the country Dario himself celebrated in his own poetry. A less well-known Nicaraguan poet, Alfonso died there after some 30 years in a psychiatric hospital in Managua. It was this poet who provided Cardenal with many of his ideas on the relationship between poetry and the cosmos, such as the thought that “the origin of things is not prior but permanent,” and furnished the title of a key cantiga, number 34, “Ancient Sobbing Light.” In this section of his Cosmic Canticle, Cardenal discusses himself and his epic: I’m no scientist, obviously, but I can see that present-day science is the same as . Empedocles’s of Acragas which stated that the universe is nothing but earth, water, air and fire. Einstein thought the expansion of the universe so strange he believed his equations were incomplete. The problem for this poem is that like the universe it must expand indefinitely or cave in on itself While Cardenal’s poem is circularthe first cantiga opening with “In the beginning” and the last cantiga \(entitled “cave in on itself” but rushes on listing in a Whitmanesque style the variety of waves, of flood stories from all cultures, contrasting Goethe on science and poetry with the Dantesque vision of Buchenwald’ s ovens, cataloging the benefits of the Golden Stone Age where “there were no kings nor dictators, prime minister, police, / jails, bureaucrats. / Nobody knelt humbly to salute anyone,” and tracing “the rapid step from the amoeba to Einstein,” finding “Evolution” to be “not so much competition / as cooperation.” If Cardenal’s combination of communism and Christian communion seems rather naive, and if his diatribes against fascist dictators appear unbalanced in ignoring Stalin’s mass murders and the de facto, repressive dictatorship of Castro, his epic is all-encompassing in its range of themes, theories, and descriptive passages that are full of power and insight into the wondrous nature of timespace, which has truly inspired this Nicaraguan to epic heights of poetic-scientific song. Fortunately for those who cannot read Cosmic Canticle in the original Spanish ; John Lyons has produced a highly readable and faithful English version, an epic undertaking in itself that the translator has carried off with seeming ease, unqualified understanding, and untiring clarity. Ernesto Cardenal’ s “towering piece of work” deserves no less. ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 512 45:1-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19 ILO …1.164011.001.11.11ftis.0.9….