Fernando’s Eyes, a homage to Fernando Cardenal

HAVANA TIMES – The following is a writer and poet’s homage to Jesuit father Fernando Cardenal who passed away on February 20th in Managua, Nicaragua.

Fernando’s Eyes

Fernando Cardenal en una foto de los archivos de la familia Vigil Gurdián. Cortesía/Confidencial
Fernando Cardenal in a photo from the archives of the Vigil-Gurdian family. Courtesy/Confidencial

By Gioconda Belli  (confidencial.com.ni)

Fernando’s eyes

Fernando’s blue eyes

Fernando’s steady eyes


It rained in Granada;

a cloudburst in summer

at 9 in the morning

on the day of his passing,

The very day the Poetry Festival concluded.


What most strikes the poets

who’ve come from all parts of the world

is the silence of the multitudes filling the square.

They hush to listen to poetry:

vendors of snow-cones, popcorn, cigarettes,

women who sell vigorón in the park,

men who offer sunglasses, dozens of them,

pegged to a plywood sheet.

The high and mighty:

professionals, children, entire families,

are silent to hear with veneration

their poetry.


Fernando’s sweet eyes

Fernando’s fierce eyes


I think about Nicaraguans’ love for poetry;

And I see Ernesto, the great poet,

And Fernando, opening Nicaragua’s eyes in the Literacy Campaign

So many eyes were opened, pair by pair:

the eyes of the illiterate who couldn´t read or write.

How many were given the magic world of poetry, of fiction, of science, of mathematics,

in that most vital of the Revolution’s battles?

A battle of love Fernando led like a tenacious and transparent general

at the head of hosts of adolescents

who left their homes singing, to go deep into the backcountry

and teach people to read.


Fernando’s blue eyes

Fernando’s sweet eyes


So much was lost of all that mattered most in that revolution,

but Fernando’s war will remain in the annals of our history

as the greatest and the sweetest campaign this country

ever launched.


Fernando’s sweet eyes

Fernando’s fierce eyes


Nothing, not a handful of earth for his grave did this General ask for himself

He took his leave of public life, in silence he withdrew, to continue

serving, because his commitment was never to a party but to God and

his fellows. And for them, humble and dogged, he always came through.


Fernando’s steady eyes


Hard to imagine we’ll see him no more. I wish I could invoke new words

to say that his memory will live, that we’ll never let him die.

But it’s too soon to think of days without him, and I prefer not to say goodbye.

I’d rather applaud, ring the bells,

honk the horns, shake the castanets, for all he gave us:

For his beautiful

generous life.


February 20, 2016

One thought on “Fernando’s Eyes, a homage to Fernando Cardenal

  • In no other species is there such a range of individual behavior. All too many of the cruel, greedy, selfish, all too few of men like this. And yet the latter exist, almost seeming to contradict the central law of evolution. May there be many more like him.

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