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Statement by President Higgins on the death of Ernesto Cardenal

Date: Mon 2nd Mar, 2020 | 15:57

With the passing of Ernesto Cardenal, former Cultural Minister of Nicaragua, Liberation Theologian, Mystic and celebrated poet, the world of culture has lost one of its most inspirational voices.

His life was one of courage and deep commitment to, what his friend, Xavier Gorostiaga called, “a civilisation of simplicity”.

He retained his commitment to critical thought in the welfare of all during the recent difficult times in Nicaragua, when he criticised the suppression of dissent on the part of students and others that was directed at the Government.

With his brother Fernando, Minister for Education, he represented the period of brightest hope for Nicaraguans who had emerged from four decades of dictatorship.

He rejected any division between culture and science. This is reflected in his life’s work and in poems such as ‘Stardust’ which will endure. 

This beautiful poem is from his last complete collection and concludes -  (trans. Jonathan Colin)

“And the galaxy was taking the shape of a flower
The way it looks now on a starry night
Our flesh and our bones came from other stars”

Perhaps even from other galaxies
We are universal
And after death we will help to form other stars
And other galaxies
We come from the stars, and to them we
shall return.”