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José Martí
Cuban journalist, editor, poet and leader of the Cuban independence movement

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Jose Marti

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Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma.

I am an an honest man
From where the palm tree grows,
And I want, before I die,
to cast these verses from my soul.

-- Opening lines of poem "Yo soy un hombre sincero", originally published in Versos sencillos [Simple verses] (1891). English translation by Esther Allen in Esther Allen in José Martí : Selected Writings (2002).

Cultivo una rosa blanca
En julio como en enero,
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca.

Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo,
Cardo ni ortiga cultivo,
Cultivo una rosa blanca.

I grow a white rose
In July just as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his frank hand.

And for the cruel man who pulls out of me
the heart with which I live,
I grow neither nettles nor thorns:
I grow a white rose.
-- "Cultivo una rosa blanca", originally published in Versos sencillos [Simple verses] (1891). English translation by Seymour Resnick in Spanish-American Poetry: A Dual-language Anthology (1996).

Jose Marti was said to have originally written and sent to a friend who had betrayed him to the police.

Sueño con claustros de mármol
donde en silencio divino
los héroes, de pie, reposan;
¡de noche, a la luz del alma,
hablo con ellos: de noche!

I dream of cloisters of marble
where in divine silence
the heroes, standing, rest;
at night, in light of the soul,
I speak with them: at night!
-- Opening lines of poem "Sueño con claustros de mármol" [I dream of cloisters of marble], originally published in Versos sencillos [Simple verses] (1891).

Yo quiero salir del mundo
por la puerta natural:
en un carro de hojas verdes
a morir me han de llevar.
No me pongan en lo oscuro a morir como un traidor:
yo soy bueno, y como bueno
moriré de cara al sol.

I wish to leave the world
By its natural door;
In my tomb of green leaves
They are to carry me to die.
Do not put me in the dark
To die like a traitor;
I am good, and like a good thing
I will die with my face to the sun.
-- "A Mori" [To Die] (1894)

Life on earth is a hand-to-hand mortal combat... between the law of love and the law of hate.
-- Letter (1881), as quoted in The Conscience of Worms and the Cowardice of Lions : Cuban Politics and Culture in an American Context (1993) by Irving Louis Horowit

Love is... born with the pleasure of looking at each other, it is fed with the necessity of seeing each other, it is concluded with the impossibility of separation!
-- Amor (1881)

A knowledge of different literatures is the best way to free one's self from the tyranny of any of them.
-- On Oscar Wilde (1882)

Terrible times in which priests no longer merit the praise of poets and in which poets have not yet begun to be priests.
-- Attributed comment regarding "El Poema de Niágara" by Pérez Bonalde (1883)

¡Robaron los conquistadores una página al Universo! Aquellos eran los pueblos que llamaban la Via Láctea 'el camino de las almas'; para quienes el Universo estaba lleno del Grande Espiritu, en cuyo seno se encerraba toda luz.

(The conquistadores stole a page from the Universe! Those were the good people who called the Milky Way 'the souls' path'; for them the Universe was full of the Great Spirit, within which all light was contained.)
-- "El hombre antiguo de América y sus artes primativas" [Ancient Man in America and his Primitive Arts] in Obra literaria (1884)

Mankind is composed of two sorts of men — those who love and create, and those who hate and destroy.
-- "Letter to a Cuban Farmer" (1893)

Rights are to be taken, not requested; seized, not begged for.
-- Quoted in Inside the Monster : Writings on the United States and American Imperialism (1975). This book is a collection of writings by José Martí with English translations by Elinor Randall.

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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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