Heroism is man’s substance.
Our essence is in suffering with others.
Heroism is quite simply realizing
that unspeakable solitude is a vast community
of quick and dead: all vital now and wakened.
And we shall all be heroes, without escape,
heroes of keeping quiet or speaking out,
of knowing or not knowing, of having faith
or not—of saying no or yes,
heroes above all of being badly hurt,
at the center of the cross, in the battle
of contradictions. Heroes along with us
are the trees, the clouds, the planets,
and the animals, even the grass—the dust is heroic,
all of nature risen like a man
and each in every other shall accept
the horrendous glory of being,
the communion that can’t be named.

December 6, 1960

Translated from Spanish by Kathleen Weaver

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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