Today in history: Fidel turns 89, poem by Che

Song to Fidel

You said the sun would rise.
Let’s go

along those unmapped paths

to free the green alligator you love.


And let’s go obliterating

insults with our

brows swept with dark insurgent stars.

We shall have victory or shoot past death.


At the first shot the whole jungle

will awake with fresh amazement and

there and then serene company

we’ll be at your side.


When your voice quarters the four winds

reforma agraria, justice, bread, freedom,

we’ll be there with identical accents

at your side.


And when the clean operation against the tyrant

ends at the end of the day

there and then set for the final battle

we’ll be at your side.


And when the wild beast licks his wounded side

where the dart of Cuba hits him

we’ll be at your side

with proud hearts.


Don’t ever think our integrity can be sapped

by those decorated fleas hopping with gifts

we want their rifles, their bullets and a rock

nothing else.


And if iron stands in our way

we ask for a sheet of Cuban tears

to cover our guerrillas bones

on the journey to American history.

Nothing more.


From The Penguin Book of Socialist Verse, 1970. Originally published in Our Word, translated by Edward Dorn and Gordon Brotherston (Cape Goliard Press)

Photo: artist unknown, taken from a 1967 Christmas card