Los Pobres by Roberto Sosa

Roberto Sosa is Honduras’ most famous living poet. This is one of several musical adaptations of his poems by the Honduran classic rock band Rajamadrex on YouTube. It’s a little unclear, but I’m guessing that the video itself was made by the band, or someone under their direction, and the captions were added much more recently by the YouTube poster, who goes by the handle Sanjeringas. Here’s the Spanish text along with my own translation.

Los Pobres

Los pobres son muchos
y por eso
es imposible olvidarlos.

en los amaneceres
múltiples edificios
donde ellos
quisieran habitar con sus hijos.

llevar en hombros
el féretro de una estrella.
destruir el aire como aves furiosas,
nublar el sol.

Pero desconociendo sus tesoros
entran y salen por espejos de sangre;
caminan y mueren despacio.

Por eso
es imposible olvidarlos.

The Poor

The poor are many:
that’s why it’s impossible
to forget them.

they glimpse
in each new dawn
building upon building
where they’d like to make
a home for their children.

They’re able
to bear on their shoulders
the coffin of a star.
They can shatter the air
like maddened birds,
blotting out the sun.

But unaware of their gifts, they enter
and exit through mirrors of blood,
they walk slowly and are slow to die.

That’s why it’s impossible
to forget them.

I did this translation 14 years ago as part of a chapbook I put together after a six-week visit to the country. I was in Honduras not just as a tourist but to attend my brother Mark’s wedding to a Honduran, my sister-in-law Luz, who is from the same small city as the just-deposed president, Mel Zelaya. The Honduran coup is therefore somewhat personal for me. Since Zelaya was deposed for siding with the poor and alienating large segments of the ruling elite, Sosa’s poem seems — sadly — as relevant as ever.


  1. Reply
    Jacobo José Herrera Gámez 23 May, 2012

    I really appreciate your post, especially as today marks the first anniversary of the death of this beloved poet. this poem in specific rather than trying to move us, trying to make us reflect on the power possessed by the people and that we barely noticed.

  2. Reply
    Hector O. Chacon 8 April, 2013

    Hector O Chacon
    08 April 2013 I graduated from High School in La Ceiba with Roberto Sosa who always had and showed exquisite sensibility and friendship. In reading your translation of Roberto’s poem Los Pobres, I felt that you have captured his sensibility.

  3. Reply
    Dave 9 April, 2013

    Thanks for your kind words. It’s a pleasure to hear from someone who knew Sosa personally. He was a great poet and uncompromising in his politics, but always came across in interviews as unaffected and generous toward other poets.

  4. Reply
    Maura Teixeira da Costa 30 May, 2013

    Fico encantada por ver a tristeza expressada com tamanha beleza e sebsibilidade nos versos de Roberto Sosa. Honduras, com sua capital Tegucigalpa país de pessoas tão sofridas e ao mesmo tempo , tão ricas em sua expressão poética de viver situações de pobreza , invasão de seu território… Mundo, vasto e bonito mundo, quando conhecerá a paz tão sonhada por milhares de pessoas?

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