top of page

Nicaraguan Poetry

Mexican Songs II

By Ernesto Cardenal


I have not come to make wars on earth
but to pick flowers
I am the singer-king who looks for flowers
I, Nezahualcóyotl
my palace is full of singers not of soldiers.


Picker of cacao flowers…
Not Cacaos (the coins
for buying and selling in markets, and not for drinking)
but the flower.
Let millionaires treasure their Cacaos, let dictators
treasure their xiquipiles of Cacaos
and I the flowers.
My valuable flowers.
the cacao flower is more valuable than the cacao.


I pick the flowers of friendship. Flowers

of love, Dictators!
Flowers of song.
And in the song I look only for Friendship, the meeting
of the singers. Literary Competitions
under flowers groves.
Xiqupiles of songs
Xiquipiles of flowers.


I yearn for the Brotherhood, the Nobility
of the poets.

The “Association.”
Mine is a court of singers
Gentlemen Generals and Tigers

my court is gloomy and of kettle–drums.
And I do not ORDER.
I, ‘Yoyoncito’ (King Nezahualcóyotl)
am always singing.


My song is of friendship, brothers.
Only in flowers is there a Brotherhood.
only in the flowers.

The federation of poet friends are those flowers. The meeting
of friends.


This poem is a flower.
I sing of that brotherhood.

But the cacao flowers dry up.
The singer comes from heaven.
Flowers and songs from the inside of heaven
Yes, from its Inside. Flowers sprout, flowers sprout
from my kettle-drum. Flower-Song are my words.
I always sing. I do not meddle
with Propaganda


You are in these songs Giver of Life.

I give my flowers and songs to my people.
–I sow poems, not tributes.
Do not let me sing in vain.


We have come to bring joy to Anáhuac with paintings

The flowers of painting
–those of the books
Songs painted in the books.

And the paintings of the Region of Mystery
‘that which is above us.’
There where our songs were born…
Are these flowers of the Giver of Life?

No. Your flowers are not these.


Where will I see your flowers?
I, poet, search for You
and am sad.
I, ‘Yoyontzin’
will see you one day.
Friendship, like the pink cacao flower, withers.
And like the milk flower of the zacuanjoche.
Things are flowers, their petals drop.
And I do not tire of flowers.


We are not happy.
Many flowers
and my heart isn’t full.
Did we ever feel delight in Life? Delight
even for a moment?
Send me to the Meeting,
to the region where our people gather!

‘where all unite’
there is friendship there!


We look for your flowers and your songs, Giver of Life.
We can always find kettle-drums there.
I sing with weeping.
The Region from which song comes! The Region
of the Meeting. My heart
saddens… Your songs
Giver of Life are more beautiful
than the golden necklace the archeologist unearths
or the fan of quetzal wilting in the Museum.


I dress with songs as with a quetzal cloak.

The night wind is casting flowers.
Who dances to the drums? It is I, ‘Yoyontzin’
—Ministers, Presidents, Gentlemen—
the King who dances to the drums.

Do not let me sing in vain.

The Parrots

By Ernesto Cardenal


My friend Michel is an army officer
in Somoto up near the Honduran border,
and he told me he had found some contraband parrots
waiting to be smuggled to the United States
to learn to speak English there.

There were 186 parrots
with 47 already dead in their cages.
He drove them back where they’d been taken from
and as the lorry approached a place known as The Plains
near the mountains which were these parrots’ home
(behind those plains the mountains stand up huge)
the parrots got excited, started beating their wings
and shoving against their cage-sides.

When the cages were let open
they all shot out like an arrow shower
straight for their mountains.

The Revolution did the same for us I think:
It freed us from the cages
where they trapped us to talk English,
it gave us back the country
from which we were uprooted,
their green mountains restored to the parrots
by parrot-green comrades.

But there were 47 that died.

Fragment of “Estival” (Summer) of Blue

By Rubén Darío

The Bengal tiger is happy and gentle, in her glory with her brilliant fur, striped at intervals.
She jumps from the hills, from a slope to dense bamboo reed grass, later to a rock that rests at the entrance to her cave.
Then she roars, gets agitated like a mad woman and bristles her fur with pleasure.
The virgin beast loves.
It’s the hottest month


The ground looks charred
The immense sun calls in the sky
She jumps fleeing the kangaroo through the dark arbor.
The boa swells, sleeps, warms itself in the torrid splendor.
The bird sits to rest on the green crest.


Feel the oven vapors.
The Indian forest on wings of suffocating heat,
Dashes beneath the serene sky, a breath of itself.
The proud tiger breathes deeply.
Seeing her own beauty, proud, sovereign,
Her heart flutters. Her breast swells.


She studies her large paw, in it the ivory nail.
Later, she touches the edge of a rock, tastes and scratches it.
She looks at her flank that she whips with her shar black and white, pointed tail mobile and downy.
Later, her stomach.
She opens her wide mouth immediately arrogant as a queen who demands servitude.
She sniffs about, looks and goes.
The fiery one exhales something like a savage sigh.
She hears a quiet roar.
She looks hastily from side to side and her green dilated eyes sparkle when she sees a tiger’s head rise over the summit of a hill.
The tiger approaches her.

bottom of page