The Lute Player, 1612-1620, oil on canvas.  Orazio Gentileschi,  1563-1639, Florentine;  the father of Artemisia Gentileschi.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC



Came to mind the Argentinian pampas at dusk. Like a sea of gold whose farther shore you cannot see.

We had left Buenos Aires and were travelling south west across the area called Las Pampas.

We were on our way upwards to San Martin de los Andes in the Argentinian foothills of the Andes. 

In the farmhouse on the pampas, a little girl, perhaps 5, said at dusk: Dusk has come again.  An observation without judgment but with great import for her.  She had registered a certainty.  She had been waiting to confirm it.


Among the wonders we witnessed when we had been in San Martin for a few days was, early in the morning, a sprinkling of dark brown earth over all the rose bushes, on the leaves of trees, on the pathways, rooves of houses. 

Earthquake in the Chilean Andes, they said. On the other side.


The eyes of my people have never seen this, I thought.  Any of it. So I have not forgotten it.  Any of it. 


And it came to mind just now as I was thinking, again, of One Hundred Years of Solitude

and how we had read it to each other far away and loved each other, loved all of us

and had begun to understand a little why Argentina was part of a civilization in which we felt that something about us and in us had been profoundly found.


Bowing, as the poet says, even if we know not to what.



Gracias a la Vida


Gracias a la Vida,  Nano Stern and Joan Baez on the latter’s 75th birthday



A song composed and first performed in 1966 by the Chilean, Violetta Parra, 1917-1967 

Most famously reprised by the Argentinian, Mercedes Sosa, 1935-2009; and Joan Baez, American born 1941. 




Detail, as above

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me ha dado el oído que en todo su ancho
Graba noche y día, grillos y canarios
Martillos, turbinas, ladridos, chubascos
Y la voz tan tierna de mi bien amado

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me ha dado el sonido y el abecedario
Con el las palabras que pienso y declaro
Madre, amigo, hermano, y luz alumbrando
La ruta del alma del que estoy amando

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me ha dado la marcha de mis pies cansados
Con ellos anduve ciudades y charcos
Playas y desiertos, montanas y llanos
Y la casa tuya, tu calle y tu patio

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me dio el corazón que agita su marco
Cuando miro el fruto del cerebro humano
Cuando miro al bueno tan lejos del malo
Cuando miro al fondo de tus ojos claros

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me ha dado la risa y me ha dado el llanto
Así yo distingo dicha de quebranto
Los dos materiales que forman mi canto
Y el canto de ustedes que es mi mismo canto
Y el canto de todos que es mi propio canto
Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto











3 thoughts on “Gracias

  1. Gloriosa … Sarah!

    What was done in Chile an Argentina, in
    thename of American telephone company
    profits can never be forgotten.
    Milton Friedman, Henry Kissinger, and
    Richard Nixon … names that will forever
    be linked to South America military

    (I’ve just been listening to Joan Baez,
    backing Bob Dylan on the recordings of
    his Rolling Thunder tour. Gracias ✌️)

    1. It is a never-ending ghastliness for which ‘ordinary’ people are paying….

      They were so young… What immense people Joan Baez and Bob Dylan are! Sarah

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