El justiciero / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

The Righteous Man

     I was a rigorous prelate. My authority weighed without contemplation over a fortified district. My palace governed the frontier river, of irregular course, altered by the precipice and the cavern. My standard, in the figure of a triangle, emitted with vigorous accent the concert of escarpments, redoubts and watchtowers.

     I wanted to impose, in their precise signification, the goat’s thorns of my coat of arms.

     I would be especially harsh with crimes of condescension and of frailty. I lived immersed in the ventilation of the problem of grace and free will, and was subtracted to the spell of sensible nature.

     I ordered the inhumane punishment of stoning when I became aware of the case of nun who had fallen in love and I remained impassive to the pleas of her kneeling relatives.

     The unfortunate woman walked to the place of punishment to the compass of a deaf music and carrying in her right hand the candle of penitence.

     I grew ill from an incurable disease when I received, on the next day, the visit of the victim’s progenitor. The old man had learned, in the company of birds, an affectionate art. He lived, until that moment, on the edge of a grove within the vicinity of nightingales, and he had defended them from the innate malice of the sparrow hawk.

     The birds had referred to him, in trills and chirps, the story of that ancient enmity, noted, from the dawn of history, in more than one venerable theogony.

     The old man was strumming the bass-viol of a philharmonic angel, seen by me in a miniature allegory of paradise.

     His reprimands, at the moment he walked away, demolished my severity.

Las formas del fuego (1929)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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