Novelist, playwright, journalist, labour leader and poet laureate of the Philippines Amado V Hernandez (1903-1970) spent years in prison because of political persecution.
Amado V Hernandez
I was christened
by the enemy,
stripped naked of name and liberty;
in a cruel cage, on this lonely rock.
Cold, this rock-cradle
for a weakened heart it is like the clutch of the grave.
No intrusion here
of wind, sunlight - and no dawn.
Tears nourished me,
The earth was my mat, in turn, too hot, too cold;
how dark the sky
shrouded by a thousand sorrows in the night!
With pain beyond endurance,
the power of noble earth.
What miracle is this?
Heart and soul cried out at this Promethean power.
I am vowed
Earth is the beginning of all things,
Out of it come
the seed of green hope and life's ripening.
Translated by E San Juan, Jr.
*Third World Resurgence No. 324/325, August/September 2017, p 68