Cintio Vitier and Rolando Escardó: «The light of his heart» (+ Photos)

By Lázaro David Najarro Pujol

September, 2021.-The Cuban narrator, essayist and critic Cintio Vitier Bolaños (1921-2009) [1], is remembered in Camagüey on the centenary of his birth on September 25, reviews this Sunday the national portal of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC).

He is also perpetuated by his link with the poet from Agramón Rolando Tomás Escardó de la Peña (1925-1960) and the memorable conference he gave in the City of Tinajones in the context of the First National Meeting of Poets “Rolando Escardó” in Memoriam, held in Camagüey, from October 14 to 16, 1969, where Cintio stated: «If I had to summarize in a single feature the distinctive characteristics of the poet from« The Family »and« The Valley of the Giants », those two anthological poems, I would say simply: humanity.


Mother welcomes me into her warm breast

day to day.

Grandfather and his limping rumble the stage.

Aurora is young, she does not think about getting married yet:

she dreams.

Ella olema is already starting to paint her nails.

Perucho has not yet died.)

Mommy taps on the piano from time to time.

Antonio is a cook

and Salvador is the one who pushes the car.


Enrique is missing! …

(Enrique was the one who wasted the money …)

They claim that when Vitier spoke with heartfelt words it was as if the light from the poet’s heart flowed whole and pure:

«[…] When we had him in front of him, his condition as a carnal and spiritually lean man, stripped of all accidental attachments, was imposed on us with the same force with which his poems stripped of adjectives and figures are imposed on us. Escardó was the man in his poverty, that is, in his radical wealth. That is why I believe that a tribute to his memory, and to the hope that she encourages in us, must start from the human values ​​that, through the vicissitudes and misfortunes of his life, he essentially represented.

“Those values ​​were, first of all, authenticity, cleanliness, modesty […]”.

«[…] Escardó was an example of that perfect fit with his own being, from which all his other human and poetic virtues derive. The one identified to the root with himself, whatever the misfortunes, injustices and even humiliations that he has to live, he will always be immune to the virus of resentment. That beaten, that expelled, that persecuted, was simply a king of himself who never confused indignation in the face of infamy, rebellion in the face of the tyrant and the system, with indiscriminate hatred or the diffuse resentment of those who have no basis of man to suffer and fight bare-chested, of the poisoned and poisoner, of the envious. If anyone had obvious reasons for falling into such traps, it was Escardó; and yet, when that gentle knight of utter helplessness entered our sheltered homes and happily made friends with our children, the light from his heart flowed whole and pure to us. With him, turning over the enigmatic pebble of poetry together, joking and making good speeches, we felt better ».

«That fundamental cleansing of his soul, loaded with so many guilt as he himself has said and probably exaggerated, also shone in the dimension of the letters, which he entered through the narrow gate of the province: blessed gate when one crosses with such steps honorable and so modest. It is not plausible that Escardó was unaware of the incisive originality that his word in the pure bones of the soul, after the initial groping, brought to our letters. This originality, neither enemy nor totally unrelated to origins, but essentially different, was the seed of almost all the best poetry that has arisen after the insurrectionary triumph, and to this day it has encouraged new promotions, although other condiments spice it up or down. be upset. That originality, in short, that clear way of saying that it corresponded exactly to the stripped-down way of being of the economically and socially plundered, but also (to pay close attention to) the non-aligned of his own being, gave Escardó the right to become captain of new hosts, with the consequent line in the generational arenas, and programmatic fulminations left and right. How many, with fewer rights than him, or with none, did so, before and after him! But none of this interested our brother.

«Although it was the natural, inevitable center of a group of poets who were going to direct their expression in another direction, plane of a private and devastated soldier, he never attributed himself or asked to be attributed the importance that he deserved, he never thought of being another something that a man in the open with life and speech; weather that, suddenly, without being able or wanting to avoid it, one entered the resonance of the only great metaphor (not cultural, not platonic) of his immediate and transcendent experience: the metaphor of the cave.

Starting with the Vallejo of Human Poems, in effect, Escardó felt the walls of his own cave – made of perdition and helplessness – until almost miraculously, with the minimum of cultural resources, he became one of the most substantive poets, pure in the world. chemical sense of the word, which we have had. His hazardous life, dominated by enrancy and misery, could not prevent it, nor his disorderly readings, in which they had little part of the texts of occultism and theosophy. Neither could misfortune, as we saw embitter his temperament, which was always clean and filial, nor distort the testimony of his poetry dedicated to the counterpoint of home and the elements: the broken home, the family destroyed by adversity, but surviving in the chest of the mother to whom he could always return, and the bad weather of the wanderer, the harassed, the lost in the midst of men and the indifference of the city. Nobody, with fewer features, captured the tragedies of the poor Cuban family, with a lyrical entrance to a fictional almond synthesis that so many young posterity has had; No one, not even among us, said with sincerity and immediacy the mortal anguish of being detached and plundered, tremendously alone in the face of his own faults, between the silence of men and the silence of God. His world, however, like that of those caverns that he loved to explore so much, was full of resonances in the darkness, of enormous forebodings, of confused echoes that, without ever being an answer, kept him alert, darkly attentive to the Amplified voices of their own helplessness: Where, where is my form? Will friend or death come? What wind will blow my hair tomorrow? Who this temptation of space can say my name? Where are you? Is this the last site? Since when is the lost lost? What am I doing, God, what am I looking for in the caves? ».

«The depth, in short, the life experience of Escardó in hours of the most frightening abandonment, really took him to that abysmal frontier in which life and death are confused. There he proved that his vallejísmo was not borrowed, but a lineage: Man and death, as in the Peruvian, ended up merging for him in a hunger for death ».

«It is true that in him there was also, above all, a great hunger for life, a lot of courage, a great capacity for hope and joy; but in truth only the national resurrection of January 59 could bring him back to the land of his hope. Together we lived the popular festivities of that year and he positioned himself in Havana. It was as if the basements had gone up to the radiant balconies. The king who had always been shed his rags. Nobody was better suited to the olive green uniform with which he got out of the jeep in front of my house, brandishing a huge empanada cartridge as a heavenly trophy. In those days, not forgetting them, we knew the glory of the earth… ».

In January 59 Escardó was radiant.

«[…]« No compliment was more beautiful or greater; and no one was better prepared than he, not only because of the knowledge of the living wounds of capitalism, but also because of the basic human virtues that constituted it, to be a true revolutionary. How to think that in the midst of that momentum of rebirth and creation we were going to lose the survivor of so much misery, the victor of so much death? ».

«When I heard the terrible news, trying to quickly rebuild, through tears, the beloved image, I wrote these verses:

A stone, a cap,

a handkerchief of verses like broken shells

it’s all you leave at my house

I see your face battered by the sun of misery,

your embrace without protection, your gentle thinness.

I hear your mysterious way of saying concho!

I touch loneliness again

of your immense hands.

I watch you go through the rooms,

the early mornings, the Café,

or go down with a lantern among bats,

or walk in the open, detached from yourself

crane, deer, impenetrable man.

A stone, a cap,

a handful of verses like broken shells.

But you said it well: Since when is the lost lost?

At last you enter, Rolando, in the treasure cavern!

And we stay in the mouth,

you see, not knowing what to say to you, sobbing.

The friends of Rolando Tomás Escardó de la Peña, who died in a car accident in Matanzas on October 16, 1960, were in that theater, excited by Vitier’s heartfelt words and to fulfill a will of the poet embodied in the prose «Los friends »[2]:

I would like this afternoon the friends / those who have been / those who will be tomorrow / all around me / as together with a heap / of burning firewood.


[1] Cintio Vitier Bolaños. He was a Cuban narrator, essayist, and critic. He considered the great figure of Cuban scholarly criticism. He owner of a poetry of the most complex of the Hispanic letters, and an exquisite prose. Renovator of the Cuban national novel. Great connoisseur of the work of José Martí. One of the most significant Cuban writers of all time.

[2] Poem written by Rolando Escardo in 1954. (Photos of the author and Signos magazine).

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