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Juan Clemente Zenea and the Naked Lady

Published: 2012.12.21 - 15:19:48   /  /  Traslated by: Yurgen Enamorado Lardoeyt

Juan Clemente Zenea and ‘‘the Naked Lady’’.Emotion and suspense overcame the audience at ‘‘Tacón (heel) Theatre’’, and people in Havana talked about nothing else in the city.

A theatre company that had come from New Orleans performed a play, and reached its climax when a girl came on stage on horseback, wearing a few tight-fitting clothes on. Suddenly, the horse bolted for the back of the stage raising people’s awe.

Havana journalists at the time, in the mid nineteenth century, waited for her at the dressing room. One of them was quite excited. He used to write poems and he made theatre reports as well. He was about 20 years old and he had a dreamy and sensitive character, he also loved his homeland and longed for its freedom. His name was Juan Clemente Zenea.

Due to his connection with the actress a passionate love sprang up between them. People used to see them walking at night through ‘‘Plaza de Armas’’ (parade ground) where a military band used to give concerts.

Twenty years after their romance, Adah Meken, or ‘‘the naked lady’’, as she was known worldwide, amazed lots of people when she wrote several poetry books and related to poets and writers.

She befriended Victor Hugo, Alejandro Dumas and others. She made a large fortune by earning the highest salaries that any other actress at her time could.

Some time later, the artist had to depart for new horizons of glory, fame, sadness and diseases. At the time of her death, Juan Clemente Zenea lived in Mexico. There, he wrote a poem, recalling her at the age of 17: her green eyes, her long hair… and so.

And today I know, oh my sorrow,
That you are gone,
And there is nothing left of your love,
Oh my Goodness,
But a rough cross and a sad willow, weeping
by the shore of a foreign river.

The young man continued longing for his homeland’s independence. Then, he was arrested by Spanish authorities. The poet was executed in the moats of La Cabana Fortress…
Don’t look for
My dark and secret grave,
By flying so worried,
Swallow, don’t you notice?
There is neither a willow nor a cypress
In the poet’s grave.

By: Juan Blas Rodríguez

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