Home > Uncategorized > Nicolás Guillén: Come, dove, come tell me the tale of your woe

Nicolás Guillén: Come, dove, come tell me the tale of your woe

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Nicolás Guillén
Ballad
From Tengo (1964)
Translated by Robert Márquez

Come, dove, oh dove, come
tell me the tale of your woe.

I’ve seen two men passing
with guns and with flags;
the one rode a pinto,
the other a black mare.
For remote lands they left
their houses and wives,
with hate as their escort,
bearing death in their hands.
I asked “Where are you going?”
and both spoke at once:
“Dove, we go riding,
go riding to war,”
so they say, then
on eight hooves they fly,
dressed in dust and in sun,
with guns and with flags,
one rides a pinto
the other a black mare.

Come, dove, oh dove, come
tell me the tale of your woe.

I’ve seen widows passing
like no two I’ve seen;
they are like two statues
formed of one single tear.
“Where are you going,
my ladies?” I asked.
“We go for our husbands,
oh dove,” they replied.
“Of their going and coming
bitter tidings we have;
they are laid out and dead now,
both dead on the grass,
maggots feast on their stomachs,
buzzards perch on their heads,
their silent guns fireless
and their flags without air;
the pinto horse panicked,
the black mare she fled.”

Come, dove, oh dove, come
tell me the tale of your woe.

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