If you want to be called a human being  
you will not cease, not even for a moment, to fight for peace and justice.  
You will go out onto the streets, you will shout, your lips will bleed from shouting  
your face will bleed from the bullets – but don’t take a single step back.  
Each of your cries will be a stone thrown at the warmongers’ windows  
each of your gestures will tear down injustice.  
And beware: don’t lose track, not even for a moment.  
If you start thinking back to your childhood years  
you will let thousands of children be shattered into pieces as they play unsuspectingly in cities  
if you look for a moment at the sunset  
people tomorrow will be lost in the darkness of war  
if you stop for a moment to dream  
millions of people’s dreams will turn to ash beneath the bombshells.  
You have no time  
you have no time for yourself  
if you want to be called a human being.  
 
If you want to be called a human being  
you might have to leave behind your mother, your beloved, your child.  
You won’t hesitate.  
You will give up your lamp and your bread  
you will give up the relaxing evenings on the front porch  
for the rough road that leads to tomorrow.  
You won’t flinch from anything or be afraid.  
I know, it’s nice to listen to a harmonica in the evening,  
to gaze upon a star, to dream  
it’s nice to lean over your beloved’s red lips  
and hear her tell you her dreams for the future.  
But you must take leave of all these things and set out  
for you are responsible for all the harmonicas in the world,  
for all the stars and all the dreams  
if you want to be called a human being.  
 
If you want to be called a human being  
you might have to be locked up in jail for twenty years or more  
but even in jail you’ll always remember spring, your mother, the world.  
Even within the four walls of your cell  
you will continue your journey upon the earth.  
And when in the endless silence of the night  
you knock on the wall of the cell with your finger  
from the other side you’ll receive a reply from Spain.  
Even though you see your days go by and your hair turn grey  
you won’t grow old.  
In jail you will begin each day younger and anew  
as new battles keep arising in the world  
if you want to be called a human being.  
 
If you want to be called a human being  
you must be ready to die any morning.  
Overnight in isolation you will write a long and loving letter to your mother  
you will write on the wall the date, your initials and one word: Peace  
as though you were writing your entire life story.  
Ready to die any morning  
ready to stand before the six rifles  
as though you were standing before the entire future.  
Ready to hear, amidst the volley of shots killing you, the thousands of simple people singing while fighting for peace.  
If you want to be called a human being.  
 
[Translated by N.N. Trakakis]

 
 

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