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Juan Francisco Manzano: a slave and a poet

Published: 2014.10.16 - 17:31:01   /  web@renciclopedia.icrt.cu  /  Traslated by: Yurgen Enamorado Lardoeyt
  

Juan Francisco Manzano: a slave and a poetJuan Francisco Manzano was born in slavery in 1817, in Havana. He suffered the pains and humiliations to which he and his brothers were subjected for years. In 1837, on the initiative of Domingo del Monte and with the contribution of several voluntary contributors, he bought his freedom.

He is the author of lyrical poetry and drama Zafira in five acts, an autobiography where he retells the hardships of slavery, published in England, as a testimony against the existing situation in the Spanish colonies.

The following poetry goes to our readers "Treinta años" by Juan Francisco Manzano

When I look back to the past
All the way I've been through
From the cradle to the present day,
I rather tremble with fear, than greet my fortune,
with lively emotion.

Surprise me the fight which has been able to
Hold me against such unholy luck.

Since I opened my eyes I know the world;
Carrying on with this grief for thirty years
Cheerless misfortune everywhere assails me.

Crude War means nothing to me
For I have borne in vain,
If I Oh God misread the time to come

Manzano was arrested during the so-called "Conspiración de la Escalera" (The Escalera Conspiracy) and released three years later. But he would not be able to write further poems since he died ten years later.

(By Juan Blas Rodríguez)

 

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