The Internet has come under fire this week for contributing to the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the USA through fake news and filter bubbles. Both Google and Facebook are now taking measures to address this – a little like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. But hey, it’s something.
It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s fake any more. With so much information out there, it’s nigh on impossible to be certain of anything. Poems, quotations, and thoughts are attributed to myriad people and even those sites that claim to be definitive sources disagree. Is it any wonder that I am ‘confused in a world of fake illusions’.
Having been schooled by one of Hungary’s best Hungarian-English translators, I’m quite vigilant about crediting translators but that vigilance is often thwarted because they’re rarely mentioned.
I want to share a poem with you this week, posted by a friend in Switzerland: It is forbidden by Alfredo Cuervo Barrero. I did my due diligence – to make sure that Alfredo Cuervo Barrero actually wrote it and to find the name of the translator.
In my trolling, I discovered that the poem first appeared online on July 23, 2001 on the website deusto.com [which no longer exists] and that it has (often) been mistakenly attributed to Pablo Neruda. Despite some serious effort on my part, I couldn’t find the name of a translator, anywhere.** So to post or not to post?
In an age replete with do’s and don’ts, I thought this litany of laws, were they enforced, would make for a better world. I’m grateful to the lovely ASV for sharing it and in a week where my menopausal mood has made me not want to be around myself, it’s given me a lot to think about.
It is forbidden by Alfredo Cuervo Barrero
What is truly important?
I look for the answer inside myself
And it is so hard to find it
False ideas invade my mind
Used to disguise what it doesn’t understand
Confused in a world of fake illusions
Where vanity, fear, wealth
Violence, hate, indifference
Are the worshiped heroes
I am not amazed there is so much confusion!
So much distancing from all, so much disenchantment
You ask me, how can one be happy
How can one live among so much deceit
Each one has to answer for themselves
Though for me, now and forever:
It is forbidden to cry without learning,
to wake up one day not knowing what to do,
to be afraid of your memories.
It is forbidden not to smile at your problems,
not to fight for what you want. It is forbidden
to abandon everything because you are scared of making your dreams come true
It is forbidden not to show your love,
It is forbidden to make someone pay for your debts and to be in a bad mood.
It is forbidden to leave your friends,
not to try to understand the memories made together,
and call them only when you need them.
It is forbidden not to be yourself in public,
to pretend with people you don’t care about,
to be funny just so they will remember you,
to forget all the people who really love you.
It is forbidden not to do things by yourself,
not to believe in God and forge your own destiny,
to be afraid of life and its commitments,
not to live each day as if it was your last sigh.
It is forbidden to miss someone without
Cheering up when remembering them, to forget their eyes, their smile,
just because your paths stopped embracing,
to forget their past; paying it only with their present.
It is forbidden not to try to understand people,
to think that their lives are more valuable than yours,
not to know that each one has their path and their glory
It is forbidden not to create your own story,
not to have a moment for people who need you,
not to understand that whatever life gives it can also take away.
[**Since posting, I’ve been told that this was translated by Gonzalo de Cesare, Director at Euro-LatinAmerican Institute for Justice and Rule of Law, Peru.]