Eisenhower’s Visit to Franco, 1959
“. . . we die of cold, and not of darkness.” —Unamuno
The American hero must triumph overThe forces of darkness.He has flown through the very light of heavenAnd come down in the slow duskOf Spain.Franco stands in a shining circle of police.His arms open in welcome.He promises all dark thingsWill be hunted down.State police yawn in the prisons.Antonio Machado follows the moonDown a road of white dust,To a cave of silent childrenUnder the Pyrenees.Wine darkens in stone jars in villages.Wine sleeps in the mouths of old men, it is a dark red color.Smiles glitter in Madrid.Eisenhower has touched hands with Franco, embracingIn a glare of photographers.Clean new bombers from America muffle their enginesAnd glide down now.Their wings shine in the searchlightsOf bare fields,In Spain.
“Eisenhower’s Visit to Franco, 1959” from Collected Poems ©1971 by James Wright.
Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
James Wright was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, in 1927. He was well known for his translations of such Spanish poets as Pablo Neruda and César Vallejo and for his poems about the Midwest. He received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1972 for his Collected Poems. Other books of his published by Wesleyan are Saint Judas, The Branch Will Not Break, Shall We Gather at the River, and Above the River: The Complete Poems (co-published with Farrar, Straus and Giroux). James Wright died in 1980.
"Collected Poems proves James Wright to be a truly rare and beautiful poet . . . [It] has the authority that only the best books have; it forces on us the recognition that Wright is among the masters of our day."
—Peter S. Stitt, New York Times Book Review
"One of the few authentic visionary poets . . . Unlike many others, James Wright's visions are authentic, profound, and beautiful. Moreover, even among visionaries he is rare, for he is a visionary not with an unearthly or heavenly vision, but a human vision. He is a seer with astonishing compassion for human beings."