Este hermoso evangelio, según Jonathan Harrington, nos muestra una lectura diferente de los evangelios, tocando nuestros los ojos para abrir de par en par los corazones a través de los siglos, fronteras y creencias. Sin importar el idioma, este ciclo virtuoso de sonetos fomenta fraternidad/sororidad entre los pueblos históricamente antagónicos, pero que aún pueden alcanzar, en la poesía, el milagro de la reconciliación.
This beautiful gospel according to Jonathan Harrington opens our eyes to a new way of reading the gospels and they open our hearts wide, through centuries, beyond borders and beliefs. Regardless of language, this wonderful cycle of sonnets fosters brotherhood and sisterhood among historically antagonistic peoples everywhere, who, nevertheless, can still achieve through poetry, the miracle of reconciliation.
Among the nearly infinite number of artistic recreations of the New Testament it is striking that da Vinci omitted the olive complexion and other Semitic features of the characters of the The Last Supper, and Hellenized them, making them Caucasian, even blond in some cases. The contemporary recreation by the Belizean artist Richard Holder seems more truthful to me. His spectacular The Last Supper (Xposure Devine, 2005), shows us a Jesus Christ with flowing dreadlocks, sharing bread among his disciples of African descent, at a table full of pineapples, pumpkins and jícaras.
This beautiful gospel according to Jonathan Harrington is a similarly authentic and thought-provoking recreation. These poems are not “religious” in the traditional sense. Although they do adhere to the sequence of events narrated in the Gospel of Matthew. Harrington’s gospel juxtaposes time and history setting many of the acts of Jesus within the context of the present-day conflict within the Middle East, specifically, in Israel and Palestine where Jesus was born and died. All of the poems are dramatic monologues told from the point-of-view of main players in Matthew or from minor or invented characters. They attempt to capture the humanity of these characters that is so often glossed over by conventional religious doctrine. In Harrington’s sonnets, Jesus, his mother and his disciples are, above all else, flesh and blood men and women. In these forty post-modern blank verse sonnets, he recreates the voices of characters such as a friend of the soldier, Longinus, the wife of Pilate, the Good Thief’s sister, even a dog … as well as various unnamed witnesses to the miracles and wonders of the good Rabbi Jesu ben Josef. In doing so, he returns the Hebrew names to the biblical characters, recreates life in a territory wounded by war and endows those who continue to suffer in the Holy Land with flesh and bone and voice and face. Even the all too human weakness of the Roman governor, Pilate, is exposed. Pilate admits that this rabbi they call the Christ has done no wrong. Yet Pilate, by his failure to act, like all of us who recognize injustice but do nothing to rectify it, dooms the innocent rabbi to death at the hands of Roman soldiers. Harrington’s sonnets open our eyes to a new way of reading the gospels and they open our hearts wide, through centuries, beyond borders and beliefs.
The Spanish translation has been a challenge, an honor and a pleasure. On some occasions it was possible for me to recreate the recurring iambic pentameter in the original, but I also chose to rely on free verse to render a more authentic version of each poem in Spanish. Regardless of language, this wonderful cycle of sonnets fosters brotherhood and sisterhood among historically antagonistic peoples everywhere, who, nevertheless, can still achieve through poetry, the miracle of reconciliation.
Fer de la Cruz