The Soviets

They parked Lenin in Stalin Line. Photo posted by Alfred Mikus on VK. Minsk, Belarus.

Photo of Bronze Lenin head in parking lot.

From inside iron and the wholesome
insides of the trees
they were born.
With them the true notion of dawn came to the world,
and words of love, wise and ancient,
sprang up like the wheatstalks of svelte poetry.
From mine and river, they came
from book and thought, they came.
Lenin gave them sense and strategy.
Songs of untamed nature arrived too,
and, I repeat, it was the dawn.
The cities were born, the lakes and the valleys,
the seas, canals, the pipelines
filled with longing premonition;
in their eyes those men carried a light of mastery.
And they mastered.
So with the whole dawn,
with the lathe, the tractor, and the pin
work had a fresh sense of triumph.
And they triumphed.
From the Baltic to the Pacific, a rumor,
a flame, a virtue was born:
and there were statues and armies.
And there was a man, too
(no man in the world works more than he)
a man of burning metal,
a man of superhuman quality
a Soviet: Stalin.
Heir, like the electric regions,
like the coal mines and the oil mantles,
to Lenin’s prophetic vision.
What profile is his, that so seduces
the men, his men, and us,
the plants of the high plateaus?
And what is his word like, his Soviet word?
We do not hear him, we do not see him, we do not touch him
with excited hands and respect and tenderness:
his eyes in which intelligence flowers
do not look upon us, smiling
and we cannot touch, kiss
his prodigious grey hairs of a universal father.
But he is here, like Lenin, present.
Is not his style felt,
is it not perceived there, my comrade?
His breath and slogan?
His name, his brilliant peals
are inside the heart
and in the air
in the eagle’s wings
and in the earth
in the youthful laurels
and in the water,
in the manly bang of the oarsmen.
Everywhere, yes,
with waves and proclamation,
with the shooting in Europe
and the bridge blown up by the anti-Nazi saboteurs,
with the Ukrainian guerillas and the communist youth of France;
with the serene simplicity of the Chinese soldiers and the death of the Mexicans in the Philippines;
with the English commando and the young American;
with us, here, in this air,
in this house and in that garden.
Wherever the eyes glance
a Soviet soldier will be keeping watch,
wherever the gaze falls,
our golden Stalin will guard the landscape.
Sweeter still than the terrible spilled blood
is the perfect face of the world’s future.
Cheers for the Soviets and their great leader Stalin!

October 28, 1942

Translated from the Spanish by Noah Mazer.

EFRAÍN HUERTA (1914-1982) was a major Mexican poet of the twentieth century, and a lifelong communist.

NOAM MAZER’s translations have appeared in PAINTBUCKET.page, HOMINTERN, and The Brooklyn Rail’s InTranslation.