Caracas, 25 de octubre de 1929 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Caracas, 25 of October of 1929

Mister Lorenzo Ramos Sucre,
Agent of Banco de Venezuela

Faithful Lorenzo:

     I’ll begin by telling you that Federico has a pension from the State of Sucre and that he isn’t working at all on his studies. He’s a society man and not vulgar at all. Such a happy young man hadn’t ever emerged in the prison of that house. Observe the difference. Luisa can be hostile with strangers, but she doesn’t exasperate her children and you see it in the children’s marriages. Relatedly, Ramón’s calm presence neutralizes any melancholia or severity Luisa might have. I don’t believe in severity, bad moods, irascibility; I merely point out cruelty and vulgarity.
     You know the scant resistance I offer against illnesses only comes from a nervous system destroyed by the infinite displeasure, disagreements, curses, desperation and strangulation that afflicted me.
     Carúpano was a prison. Father Ramos had no idea at all about the proper guidance a child needs. He would incur in a stupid severity for ridiculous reasons. This is why I feel nothing towards him. I would spend days and days without going out to the street and so I’d be prey to moments of desperation and would remain for hours laughing and crying at the same time. I hate the people who were in charge of raising me. I never approached our father because I was scared. Father Ramos was an eminent figure and I was no one, just a foul tempered child. Bestial humanity didn’t see the foul temper came from the desperation of being locked up and not having anyone to turn to. I was scared of father, who paid attention to Trinita and not me. So you see how my disgrace began to develop. Suppose I was scolded by father Ramos and by that piece of shit Martínez Mata because I would run around with kids my age, at age eleven, in Santa Rosa plaza. That is, I was scolded for an act imposed by Anglo-Saxon pedagogy three centuries ago and jealously defended by the Anglo-Saxon police. Talk with people who know England or the United States.
     Once I left that prison that was Carúpano, circuit of a Dantean inferno, I was able to return to the street, but the tyranny was even more severe although in a new form. I would incur Rita Sucre’s anger for being unaware of certain courtesies or if I was too tired to notice something and these scenes were tremendous and would go on for months. I couldn’t placate her despite my native docility. I thought I was required to provide the example of honesty and all I managed was to be a hypocrite, a liar.
     I believe in the power of my lyric faculty. I know very well that I have created an immortal oeuvre and that at the very least the sad consolation of glory will be my recompense for so many pains.
     You will suppose if with such antecedents I can withstand an imperishable infection like amebiasis. The imbalance of my nerves is horrifying and fear is the only thing that has stopped me from the thought of suicide. We don’t do what we want but what the circumstances of inheritance, education, health or corporeal illness, etc. might allow. Our actions are involuntary and even reflexive.
     Now, I observe that I was sharper than all my contemporaries and that they only surpassed me in having a soothing and tolerant home. I have been loved, admired, pitied by the most beautiful women. Naturally, I haven’t taken advantage of their good will. María del Rosario Arias spoke with me one single time, before I came to Caracas and she always remembered me affectionately for that reason alone. She was surprised by my humanity and pleasantness when she met me.
     I don’t remember José Antonio Yépez. Say hello to him very cordially in my name. Dolores Emilia is very satisfied with you and your people.
     The judgments on my two books have been very superficial. It’s not easy to write a good judgment about such untarnished or refined books. The critic needs to have the knowledge I treasured in the cavern of my suffering. And not everyone has had such an exceptional life. Only Leopardi, the poet of bitterness. Someone has already pointed out my similarity to the Italian lyricist and philosopher. Lyrical is he who speaks of his own emotions.
     The day before yesterday the important Gladys, my perfect niece was here. I don’t think she left unhappy.
     Maintain your health and buy a house in Caracas.
     Your brother embraces you,


{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra poética, Edición crítica de Alba Rosa Hernández Bossio, Madrid: Colección Archivos, 2001 }

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