His Hands Were Gentle brings together, for the first time in both Spanish and English, the best of Víctor Jara's lyrics, from early songs like 'El arado' to 'Estadio Chile' written in the hours before his execution there. They reveal Jara as an ardent political poet, an eloquent advocate for the peasantry from which he arose, a socialist visionary and a poetic balladeer of the highest order.
Translations by Martín Espada, Eduardo Embry, John Green, Joan Jara and Adrian Mitchell.
Foreword by Joan Jara, Preface by Emma Thompson, Introduction by Martín Espada.
Stand up. Look at the mountain, source of the wind, the sun, the water. You who change the course of rivers, who with the seed sows the flight of your soul. Stand up, look at your hands, take your brother's hand so you can grow, we'll go together, united by blood, the future can begin today. Deliver us from the master who keeps us in misery. thy will be done, at last, on earth. Blow like the wind blows the wild flower of the mountain pass. clean the barrel of my gun like fire. Thy will be done, at last, on earth, give us the strength and courage to struggle. Blow like the wind blows the wild flower of the mountain pass. clean the barrel of my gun like fire. Stand up, look at your hands, take your brother's hand so you can grow. We'll go together, united by blood, now and in the hour of our death. Amen. Amen. Amen. Translated by Joan Jara and Adrian Mitchell
Like lots of other children I was taught to sweat, I didn't know what school was, didn't know how to play. They dragged me out of bed early every morning, and alongside my Dad I grew up as a worker. Because I was pretty handy I got by as a carpenter, a plasterer and a brick-layer, a plumber and a mechanic. Hey! It would have been useful to have had some sort of schooling. That would have been one more thing to use – Man as a creator. I can build you a house, I can lay down a road, make wine that tastes good and keep a factory smoking, I go down to the depths of the earth I conquer all the peaks, I walk among the stars and carve furrows all over the earth. I learned the language of my masters and bosses, they killed me over and over for daring to raise my voice, but I get up off the ground again helped by the hands of others. For now I'm not alone. Now there are so many of us. Translated by Joan Jara and Adrian Mitchell
On my way to work I think of you, through the streets of the town I think of you, when I look at the faces through steamy windows not knowing who they are, where they go... I think of you my love, I think of you of you, compañera of my life and of the future of the bitter hours and the happiness of being able to live working at the beginning of a story without knowing the end. When the day's work is over And the evening comes Lengthening its shadow Over the roofs we have made And returning from our labour Discussing among friends Reasoning out things Of this time and destiny I think of you my love, I think of you. Of you, compañera of my life and of the future, of the bitter hours and the happiness of being able to live, working at the beginning of a story without knowing the end. When I come home you are there and we weave our dreams together... Working at the beginning of a story without knowing the end. Translated by Joan Jara
'For me, Victor was everything an activist-musician should be.'
'As long as we sing his songs, as long as his courage can inspire us to greater courage, Víctor Jara will never die.'
'a wonderfully diverse, well-translated collection... this book draws on the deep well of socialist vibrancy created by the timeless work of this legendary troubadour to inspire and guide us here and now in the 21st century.'
'Beautiful, clever, inspiring.'
Mistress Quickly's Bed
'Victor Jara's poetry resonates with memory and history woven into relics of resistance and triumph.'
Irish Left Review
‘A welcome collection.’
Socialist History, Leasungspell
‘a remarkable tour de force.’