To Roosevelt

by Rubén Darío [Excerpt]


The United States is powerful and great.

When they shake there’s a deep tremor

That passes through the enormous vertebrae of the Andes.

If you cry out, it is heard like the roar of a lion.

Hugo already said to Grant: “The stars are yours.”

(The Argentine sun barely shines

And the Chilean star rises…) You are rich;

You add to the cult of Hercules the cult of Mamnon;

And lighting the path of easy conquest,

Liberty raises its torch in New York.


But our America that had poets

From the old days of Netzhualcoyolt,

That he has kept the footprints of the feet of the great Bacchus,

Who consulted the stars, who met Atlantis

Whose name comes to us resounding in Plato,

That from the remotest moments of his life

Live on light, fire, perfume and love,

The America of the great Moctezuma, of the Inca,

The America in which the noble Guatemoc said:

“I am not in a bed of roses”; that america


That trembles from hurricanes and lives on love,

Men with saxon eyes and barbarian souls, live

And dream. And she loves and vibrates;

and she is the daughter of the Sun.

Be careful. Long live Spanish America!

There are a thousand loose cubs of the Spanish lion.

It would take, Roosevelt, to be God himself,

The terrible Rifleman and the strong hunter,

To be able to have us in your iron clutches.


Los Estados Unidos son potentes y grandes.

Cuando ellos se estremecen hay un hondo temblor

Que pasa por las vértebras enormes de los Andes.

Si clamáis, se oye como el rugir de un león.

Ya Hugo á Grant lo dijo: «Las estrellas son vuestras.»

(Apenas brilla alzándose el argentino sol

Y la estrella chilena se levanta…) Sois ricos;

Juntáis al culto de Hércules el culto de Mamnón;

Y alumbrando el camino de la fácil conquista,

La Libertad levanta su antorcha en Nueva York.


Mas la América nuestra que tenía poetas

Desde los viejos tiempos de Netzhualcoyolt,

Que ha guardado las huellas de los pies del gran Baco,

Que consultó los astros, que conoció la atlántida

Cuyo nombre nos llega resonando en Platón,

Que desde los remotos momentos de su vida

Vive de luz, de fuego, de perfume y de amor,

La América del grande Moctezuma, del Inca,

La América en que dijo el noble Guatemoc:

«Yo no estoy en un lecho de rosas»; esa América


Que tiembla de huracanes y que vive de amor,

Hombres de ojos sajones y alma bárbara, vive

Y sueña. Y ama y vibra; y es la hija del Sol.

Tened cuidado. ¡Vive la América española!

Hay mil cachorros sueltos del león español.

Se necesitaría, Roosevelt, ser Dios mismo,

El Riflero terrible y el fuerte cazador,

Para poder tenernos en vuestras férreas garras.


Rubén Darío was born on January 18, 1867 in Metapa, Nicaragua (later renamed Ciudad Dario). At birth, he was named Félix Rubén García Sarmiento and later took the old family name, Darío. He began writing poetry and journalism at an early age (called the Child Poet), and traveled throughout Central and South America. He is considered the progenitor of Modernist poetry in Latin America, protesting corrupt, repressive rulers allied to US domination, and is revered particularly in Nicaragua as a germinal cultural figure. He died at age 49 in 1916.

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