Featured Poem

The poet's gun is a rose

While he played at war, the way children play,
making their guns out of any old thing –
who knows, from sticks of rice
or maybe even from a rose –
he grew up on love,
fired up with its furies.
And then one day
he signed up to die
in the place he wanted to die,
saying: ‘I happen to be unafraid
of dying among trees and birds.’

That day, his gun was a rose
fired in the air. The rose was dangerous,
and the sun was the sun and the river was just
a river, but this time the game was war.
Death came out of that little brook, death rose
against his little gun (which on that day was only a rose)
but this game was war, and the sun was the sun
and the river a river, but this verse exploded
like a grenade. It opened like a rose, colouring
the waters of the river, its roots ran red
along the banks of the river, it settled like dew,
it felt like rain, or like the waters of a flooded
river, it opened up the broken veins
of the river, just as it then opened up
the breast of the poet.

He is still winning that war with his rose,
with the mouth of that river, its birds and its trees.
That day he played at war, the game that men play,
and he made his gun out of anything, or anything
that wasn’t a gun. That day he was armed with a rose.
The poet’s gun is just a rose.

Chabuca Granda is the single most important figure in the history of twentieth century Peruvian music. 

This poem, which is a song lyric, is a homage to Javier Heraud - a revolutionary poet.
Read more about Javier Heraud and Chabuca Granda in Timothy Allen's translator's notes.
We welcome your comments on the poem and translation below.

You can also listen to the poem in the video clip.

» Comment on this translation 3 comment(s)

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About the translation:
» Read translator's notes
Chabuca Granda
Timothy Allen
Original language:
Spanish (Peru)
Series 3 No.14 - Polyphony

Original poem

About the authors


Chabuca Granda

Chabuca Granda is the single most important figure in the history of twentieth-century Peruvian music: her most famous ballads...

» Read more


Timothy Allen

Timothy Allen was born in Liverpool in 1960, and as a former aid worker has lived in many parts of the developing world. He ha...

» Read more

The poet's gun is a rose (El fusil del poeta es una rosa)

Mientras jugó la guerra de los niños
con un fusil hecho de cualquier cosa
quizá de arroz, quién sabe de una rosa
envejeció de amor cargando furias
y se enroló a morir donde antes quiso
simplemente sucede y como dijo

ese día el fusil era una rosa
rastrillada en el aire, peligrosa
ese día era el sol más sol al río
más río el río y más la guerra era
y más la muerte desde la ribera
contra el leve fusil
que era ese día
solamente una rosa.

Ese día era el sol más sol al río
más río el río y más la guerra era
y más la muerte desde la ribera
y una granada el verso detonado
abierta está la rosa colorada
en la margen del río enraizada
quedó al rocío que
llovió de un río aquel
hundido río en sus venas rotas
abierta está, abierta como entonces
al hombro del poeta.

Abierta está, abierta como entonces
al hombro del poeta
va ganando la guerra con su rosa
la boca desde el río
sus pájaros, sus árboles
y es que jugó la guerra de los hombres
haciéndose un fusil
de cada cosa que no fuera un fusil
ese día se armaba de una rosa
el fusil del poeta sólo es una rosa.

- from http://chabucadelima.blogspot.com/2007_11_01_archive.html



5th Mar 2011

wow...clearly nothing lost in translation, very cleverly written,and endearing.

Joan Ashton

21st Mar 2011

Caroline is quite right, very cleverly written. Wonderful!


25th Mar 2011

I greatly enjoyed your reading of this poem last night at the 'Polyphony' launch.


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