This week I was captured by the Ruben Dario poem, A Roosevelt. I found it to be a beautiful and passionate description of Latin America as well as a scathing rejection of those who try to change or control it. I found the poems initial descriptions of Roosevelt to be intriguing, the words “primitive and modern” struck me as interesting, especially in the context of last week’s discussion. This seems to be a comment on the struggle for progress, especially since Latin American “progress” was often modeled after the appearances maintained by the United States.
It becomes quickly apparent that though the poem uses the name “Roosevelt” this is not a criticism of one man. It is a rejection of the United States of America as a whole. By calling Roosevelt a “future invader” Dario makes his mistrust clear. It’s important to understand that this “invasion” doesn’t just mean a physical invasion into Latin American territory but a cultural infiltration. This would be especially dangerous to Dario who seems to feel that American culture is corrupt.
His main grievance, as driven home by the very end of the poem, is with what he perceives as America’s failing Christianity. Considering this last line implies that without God, everything means nothing, the idea of a godless influence on Latin America is grim indeed. This is the main differentiating factor between Dario’s descriptor of the two America’s one “still prays to Christ”.
Immediately prior to his passionate description of Latin America, Dario takes time to acknowledge the grandeur and power of the United States. I believe he does this to prove that Latin America does not need to minimize other nations in order to possess majesty and honour.
This is a powerful revolutionary poem due to the unifying language used throughout. Though it may not be fully representative as Latin America was and in many large part continues to be fractured. Dario uses a common “we” throughout the poem. The use of this language is what makes the peace especially defiant. The understanding that “we” are the ones who tell “our” stories, who share history, who share pain and who share dreams and a common heartbeat allows for the rise of “we” the people. Such a united front can stand with much more impressive defiance.
In a way I believe in the unity and familiarity expressed in this poem. Though the family may be strained and in places broken apart, Latin Americans share a common experience that is not imitated or owned by any other America.