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A Sincere Man Am I

Written by: José Martí | Biography
A sincere man am I
From the land where palm trees grow,
And I want before I die
My soul's verses to bestow.
I'm a traveler to all parts, And a newcomer to none: I am art among the arts, With the mountains I am one.
I know how to name and class All the strange flowers that grow; I know every blade of grass, Fatal lie and sublime woe.
I have seen through dead of night Upon my head softly fall, Rays formed of the purest light From beauty celestial.
I have seen wings that were surging From beautiful women's shoulders, And seen butterflies emerging From the refuse heap that moulders.
I have known a man to live With a dagger at his side, And never once the name give Of she by whose hand he died.
Twice, for an instant, did I My soul's reflection espy: Twice: when my poor father died And when she bade me good-bye.
I trembled once, when I flung The vineyard gate, and to my dread, The wicked hornet had stung My little girl on the forehead.
I rejoiced once and felt lucky The day that my jailer came To read the death warrant to me That bore his tears and my name.
I hear a sigh across the earth, I hear a sigh over the deep: It is no sign reaching my hearth, But my son waking from sleep.
If they say I have obtained The pick of the jeweller's trove, A good friend is what I've gained And I have put aside love.
I have seen across the skies A wounded eagle still flying; I know the cubby where lies The snake of its venom dying.
I know that the world is weak And must soon fall to the ground, Then the gentle brook will speak Above the quiet profound.
While trembling with joy and dread, I have touched with hand so bold A once-bright star that fell dead From heaven at my threshold.
On my brave heart is engraved The sorrow hidden from all eyes: The son of a land enslaved, Lives for it, suffers and dies.
All is beautiful and right, All is as music and reason; And all, like diamonds, is light That was coal before its season.
I know when fools are laid to rest Honor and tears will abound, And that of all fruits, the best Is left to rot in holy ground.
Without a word, the pompous muse I've set aside, and understood: From a withered branch, I choose To hang my doctoral hood.



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