San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

UNA Honors Nicaraguan Poet With Honorary Doctorate

The wispy-bearded holy father of Nicaraguan poetry, Father Ernesto Cardenal, was presented an honorary doctorate from Universidad Nacional (UNA) in Heredia, north of San José, in a May 29 ceremony at San José’s National Theater.

The honoris causa degree was awarded to Cardenal by the UNA University Council for “the excellence of his extensive literary work, his humanistic testimonies, expressed in his constant support of regional culture and the exchange between cultures, his tireless fight for peace and justice in the world and his life,” said Olman Segura, director of UNA, in a statement from the university.

Cardenal, who studied philosophy in his youth and was ordained a Catholic priest in Managua in 1965, became known for his poetry and rebellion before, during and after the Nicaraguan revolution and ensuing war. He was also the Minister of Culture in the Sandinista government from 1979-87, and was reprimanded by Pope John Paul II in the 1980s for his promotion of liberation theology.


Amanecer (Dawn), by Ernesto Cardenal

Ya están cantando los gallos.

Ya ha cantado tu gallo comadre Natalia

ya ha cantado el tuyo compadre Justo.

Levántense de sus tapescos, de tus petates.

Me parece que oigo los congos despiertos in la otra costa.

Podemos ya soplar un tizón – Botar la bacinilla.

Traigan un candil para vernos las caras.

Latió un perro en un rancho

y respondió el de otro rancho.

Será hora de encender el fogón comadre Juana.

La oscurana es más oscura pero porque viene el día.

Levántate Chico, levántate Pancho.

Hay un potro que montar,

hay que canaleatar un bote

Los sueños nos tenían separados, en tijeras

tapescos y petates (caeda uno en su sueño)

pero el despertar nos reúne.

La noche ya se aleja seguida de sus seguas y cadejos.

Vamos a ver el agua muy azul: ahorita no la vemos. –Y

esta tierra con sus frutales, que tampoco vemos

Levántate Pancho Nigaragua, cogé el machete

hay mucha yerba mala que cortar

cogé el machete y la guitarra.

Hubo una lechuza a medianoche y un tecolote a la una.

Luna no tuvo la noche ni lucero ninguno.

Bramaban tigres en esta isla y contestaban los de la costa.

Ya se ha ido el pocoyo que dice: Jodido, Jodido.

Después el zanate clarinero cantará en la palmera;

cantará: Compañero

Compañera. Compañera.

Delante de la luz va la sombra volando como un vampiro.

Levántate vos, y vos, y vos.

(Ya están cantando los gallos.)

¡Buenos días les dé Dios


(From “Flights of Victory/Vuelos de Victoria,”edited and translated by Mark Zimmerman, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, 1985)


Now the roosters are singing.

Natalia, your rooster’s already sung, sister,

Justo, yours has already sung, brother.

Get up off your cots, your bed mats.

I seem to hear the congos awake on the other coast.

We can already blow on the kindling – throw out the pisspot.

Bring an oil lamp so we can see the faces.

A dog in a hut yelped

and a dog from another hut answered.

Juana, it’s time to light the stove, sister.

The dark is even darker because day is coming.

Get up Chico, get up Pancho.

There’s a horse to mount,

. we have to paddle a canoe.

Our dreams had us separated, in folding

cots and bed mats (each of us dreaming our own dream)

but our awakening reunites us.

The night already draws away followed by its witches and ghouls.

 We will see the water very blue; right now we don’t see it. – And

. this land with its fruit trees, which we also don’t see.

Wake up Pancho Nicaragua, grab your machete

there’s a lot of weeds to cut

grab your machete and your guitar.

There was an owl at midnight and a hoot owl at one.

The night left without moon or any morning star.

Tigers roared on this island and those on the coast called back.

Now the night bird’s gone, the one that says: Sc-rewed, Sc-rewed.

 Later the skylark will sing in the palm tree.

She’ll sing: Compañero

Ahead of the light goes the shade flying like a vampire.

Wake up you, and you, and you.

(Now the roosters are singing.)

! Good morning, God be with you!


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