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  • Gustavo Driau

A sea of little fires, tiny flames

"A man of the Neguá nation, on the coast of Colombia,

was able to climb to the high heaven.

On his return, he told a story.

He said he had contemplated, from above, human life.

And said that we are a sea of little fires, tiny flames

The world is that—he revealed—

A cluster of people, a sea of little fires.

Each person shines with their own light among all others.

No two fires are alike.

There are large fires and small fires

and fires of all kinds and colors.

There are people of serene fire, unaware of the existence of wind,

and people of crazy fire, who fill the air with sparks.

Some fires, foolish fires, do not shine or burn;

but others burn life so heartily you cannot observe them without stopping to blink,

and whoever gets close, flares up."

Eduardo Galeano was an Uruguayan writer (1940-2015), Montevideo). He wrote histories of Latin America, inspired by liberating and transformative political and economic views. His best-known work, Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent (1973), was a pivotal publication to understand the continent. Galeano is admired for the literary elegance with which he incorporated anecdote and legend in his texts.

cultivated an infrequent intellectual honesty; himself claimed that he could not read his most famous work again. He also said, "That's why I always say that I disagree with my good friends from Liberation Theology when they say they want to be the voice of those who have no voice. That is not like that. We all have a voice and something to say, something that deserves to be heard, celebrated or forgiven by others."

In 2020, when he received one of his literary awards, he expressed:

"Hopefully, we can keep alive the certainty that it is possible to be a compatriot and contemporary of everyone who lives animated by the will for justice and the will for beauty, born where they are born and lives when they live because the maps of the soul and of time do not have borders."

Un mar de fueguitos

Un hombre del pueblo de Neguá, en la costa de Colombia, pudo subir al alto cielo.

Y a la vuelta, contó.

Dijo que había contemplado, desde allá arriba,

la vida humana.

Y dijo que somos un mar de fueguitos.

- El mundo es eso - reveló -.

Un montón de gente, un mar de fueguitos.

Cada persona brilla con luz propia entre todas las demás.

No hay dos fuegos iguales.

Hay fuegos grandes y fuegos chicos

y fuegos de todos los colores.

Hay gente de fuego sereno que ni se entera del viento,

y gente de fuego loco que llena el aire de chispas.

Algunos fuegos, fuegos bobos, no alumbran ni queman;

pero otros, otros arden la vida con tantas ganas

que no se puede mirarlos sin parpadear,

y quien se acerca, se enciende.

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