La Carta


random trip report

by Violeta Parra (1960-63)
From the CD "Songs and Rhythms from Chile".
Me mandaron una carta
por el correo temprano,
en esa carta me dicen
que cayó preso mi hermano,
y sin compasión, con grillos,
por la calle lo arrastraron, sí. 

La carta dice el motivo
de haber prendido a Roberto
haber apoyado el paro
que ya se había resuelto.
Si acaso esto es un motivo
presa voy también, sargento, si.

Yo que me encuentro tan lejos
esperando una noticia,
me viene a decir la carta
que en mi patria no hay justicia,
los hambrientos piden pan,
plomo les da la milicia, sí.

De esta manera pomposa
quieren conservar su asiento
los de abanico y de frac,
sin tener merecimiento,
van y vienen de la iglesia
y olvidan los mandamientos, sí.

Habrase visto insolencia,
barbarie y alevosía,
de presentar el trabuco
y matar a sangre fría
a quien defensa no tiene
con las dos manos vacías, si.

La carta que he recibido
me pide contestación,
yo pido que se propague
por toda la población,
que el «león» es un sanguinario
en toda generación, sí.

Por suerte tengo guitarra
para llorar mi dolor,
también tengo nueve hermanos
fuera del que se engrilló,
los nueve son comunistas
con el favor de mi Dios, sí.
They sent me a letter
by the morning mail
in this letter they told me
that my brother was imprisoned
and without compassion, with shackles,
they dragged him through the street, oh yes.

The letter said the reason
that Robert was arrested
was that he supported the strike
that had already been settled
If this is really the reason
I'm going to prison too, Sargeant, oh yes.

I find myself so far away
Awaiting news
The letter comes to me and says
that in my country there is no justice
The hungry ask for bread
the militia gives them bullets, oh yes.

In this arrogant manner
They want to preserve their position
Those who have fans and frocks
Without deserving them
They come and go from church
and forget the commandment, oh yes.

We've seen insolence,
barbarity and treachery
Bringing out shotguns
And killing in cold blood
Those who have no defense
With their two hands empty, oh yes.

The letter I've received
Asks me for a reply
I ask that it be told
to all the population
That the Lion is bloodthirsty
in every generation, oh yes.

By luck I have a guitar
To weep my sorrow
I also have nine brothers
Besides the one in prison
The nine are Communists
By the grace of God, oh yes.

Translation by David Anderson with help from Hernán Sottolichio

Copyright 2017 © David P. Anderson