Alabanza a Bermúdez / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Acclaim for Bermúdez

     Juan Vicente González extolled the merits of Bermúdez with soaring estrus and lofty pen. The relative of the fierce Dante adjusted to the hero who can only wander comfortably amid the wide limits of the fable. One cannot decant the sullen executor of the war to the death without the sulphureous tint and cavernous terror of the Divine Comedy.

     Here we have the exemplar of the patrician colonial, dreamer of adventure during the long peace, broken occasionally by the threat of the filibuster. Bermúdez appears in an evil legend with the bearing of an obtuse and popular Silenus; but the tavern was never the dais for the gentleman with bushy eyebrows nor does he play the fool among the intense natives of the coast.

     Rebellious son amid a good family, predestined rake, of those who satisfy the maternal resentment of the homeland with feats and treasures and empires, second Lord Clive, quite worthy of another Macaulay celebrating him in a cheerful and anecdotal history.

     Juan Montalvo salutes him by comparing him to the Cid, with whom he shared even the graceful custom of intimidating his adversary by screaming his own name. But he doesn’t equal him in that fortunate plenitude of a warrior and husband of Jimena; he doesn’t divide himself between encampment and family, between the burning Iliad and the domestic Odyssey.

     War is an anomalous situation, where robbery is more reproachful and homicide is excused. Bermúdez doesn’t become rich with the loot, despite the fact that his arm propels conflict at all hours. He displays the disinterest and invulnerability of some battling god in septentrional mythology.

     His campaign in demand of Caracas, the year 1821, causes the bewilderment of the instantaneous blow. He equals the surprise of seven years earlier in Maturín, the twelfth of September of 1814, when he wins the most unequal expedition. On that day he traverses the enemy’s field amid the flight of the horsemen who sate the vengeful steel and give voice to victory facing the darkest red sunset. That campaign and its unfortunate end in El Calvario correspond to the indocility of the irregular commander, to the persistence of he who sustained the forsaken flag of Venezuela during the one hundred days of the siege of Cartagena, and he grasped and lifted it until challenging the obfuscated sky with it.

     Customary honors fail to live up to the excessive soldier. His sepulcher should be that of a Celtic chieftain: the tumult of rocks at the ocean shore or on a naked peak. The laurel, too scholarly and foreign, is not appropriate for the forehead of the exorbitant and simple paladin. In our climate there is an abundance of the tree that might prize and remember him, that symbolizes his stature, gave shade to his cradle and lulled his sleep: the vertical sonorous palm, whose presumption is repeated in the trophies his sword multiplied.

La torre de Timón (1925)

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

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