Violin and Other Questions — (1956)

Selected Poems of Juan Gelman
 translated by Hardie St. Martin

Watching People Walk Along

Watching people walk along, put on a suit,
a hat, an expression and a smile,
watching them bent over their plates eating patiently,
work hard, run, suffer, cringe in pain,
all just for a little peace and happiness,
watching people, I say it’s hardly fair
to punish their bones and their hopes
or distort their songs or darken their day,
yes, watching
people weep in the most hidden corners
of the soul and still be able
to laugh and walk with dignity,
watching people, well, watching them
have children and hope and always
believe things will get better
and seeing them fight to stay alive,
I tell them,
it’s beautiful to walk along with you
to discover the source of new things,
to get at the root of happiness,
to bring the future in on our backs, to address
time on familiar terms and know
we’ll end up finding lasting happiness,
I tell them, it’s beautiful, what a great mystery
to live treated like dirt
yet sing and laugh,
how strange!