The United Fruit Company, by Pablo Neruda

THE UNITED FRUIT COMPANY by Pablo Neruda. Translated by Ben Belitt

 

Pablo Neruda was a well-known Chilean poet and diplomat.  He won the Nobel Prize in 1971.  He died in 1973.

 

 

When the trumpets had sounded and all

Was in readiness on the face of the earth,

Jehovah divided his universe:

Anaconda, Ford Motors,

Coca-Cola Inc., and similar entities:

The most succulent item of all,

The United Fruit Company Incorporated

reserved for itself: the heartland

and coasts of my country,

the delectable waist of America.

They rechristened their properties:

the “Banana Republics”—

And over the languishing dead,

The uneasy repose of the heroes

Who harried that greatness,

Their flags and their freedoms,

They established an opera bouffe:

they ravished all enterprise,

awarded the laurels like Caesars,

unleashed all the covetous, and contrived

the tyrannical Reign of the Flies—

Trujillo the fly, and Tacho the fly,

 

The flies called Carias, Martinez,

Ubico—all of them flies, flies

dank with the blood of their marmalade

vassalage, flies buzzing drunkenly

on the populous middens:

the fly-circus fly and the scholarly

 kind, case-hardened in tyranny.

 

Then in the bloody domain of the flies

The United Fruit Company Incoporated

unloaded with a booty of coffee and fruits

brimming its cargo boats, gliding

like trays with the spoils

of our drowning dominions.

 

And all the while, somewhere, in the sugary

hells of our seaports,

smothered by gases, an Indian

fell in the morning:

a body spun off, an anonymous

chattel, some numeral tumbling,

a branch with its death running out of it

in the vat of the carrion, fruit laden and foul.

 

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