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Cinco de Mayo: A Poem for the People of Mexico

La Batalla de Puebla (The Battle of Puebla) took place in the city of Puebla on May 5, 1863,

when the French army was sent to capture Mexico City after failing to pay their debt. However, in an unexpected turn of events, a small Mexican army impeded their path and defeated the sizable French Army, causing them to retreat. The Mexican army was inevitably defeated in the next battle, but the event still evokes a sense of national pride.

The historic day is celebrated in Puebla with music, dance, and food, commemorating the

fearless military. It is a spiritual and ceremonial celebration. In the United States, however, it is

often celebrated in exaggerated and inauthentic ways, making this day one of the most

commercialized holidays in America.

The best way to celebrate Mexican culture would be to appreciate its wonderful art, literature, and its people.

Rosario Castellanos
Rosario Castellanos

For instance, one of the most recognized Mexican female poets is Rosario Castellanos, who has influenced cultural studies and feminist theory through her work. In her poem “Poetry isn’t ‘You’” she questions cultural and social ideals, her writing disclosing the true diligent essence of Mexican artists and of the Mexican people.

Poetry isn’t “You”

Because if you existed.

I too must exist. And that is a lie

There is nothing more than us: the couple,

Sexes conciliated in a child,

Two head together, but not looking at each other,

(so that no one is turned into a mirror).

Rather, staring straight ahead, toward the other.

The other: mediator, judge, balance

Between opposites, witnesses,

Knot that binds up all that had broken.

The other, muteness begging a voice

From the speaker

Claiming an ear

From the listener.

The other. With the other

Humanity, dialogue, poetry, begin.

Translation: Castellanos, Rosario, and Maureen Ahern. “Six Poems.” Latin American Literary Review

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