Ernesto Cardenal – Nicaraguan poet, priest, theologian, humanitarian…graced our own city hall this past Friday, and read from his collected works.
Ernesto Cardenal is a towering figure in Nicaraguan politics, literature, religion and art. One of the founders of liberation theology, Nicaraguan Minister of Culture under the Sandinista government, and Nobel Prize nominee in literature, Cardenal continues to live and work in Managua.
Thomas Merton, who was Cardenal’s novice master at the Trappist monastery in Gethsemani, Kentucky, said,
Ernesto was a novice at Gethsemani for two years, and I knew about his notes and his poems. He spoke to me about his ideas and his meditations. I also knew about his simplicity, his loyalty to his vocation, and his dedication to love. But I never imagined that some day I was going to write an introduction to the simple meditations he was writing down in those days, nor that in reading them (almost ten years later) I would find so much clarity, profundity, and maturity.
(Thank you to my friend Pamela for the link.)
Cardenal may have married poetry with politics, but in a country under siege, how else would a conscientious poet respond?
“Merton had told me,” said Cardenal, “that in Latin America contemplation could not be divorced from the political struggle.”
“I was born for an extremist love.”