Song Of Sickle And Sheaf – Pedro Casaldáliga [Poem] (1986)

[“Pedro Casaldàliga i Plà CMF (born 16 February 1928) is a Catalan-born prelate of the Catholic Church who led the Territorial Prelature of São Félix, Brazil, from 1970 to 2005. A bishop since 1971, he is one of the best known exponents of liberation theology.” – Wikipedia]

[This poem is from Casaldáliga’s Fire and Ashes to the Wind. The translation can be found in In Pursuit of the Kingdom Writings, 1968-1988 published by Orbis Books in 1990.]

(Harvesting rice with the squatters in Santa Terezinha, who are persecuted by the government and the landholders.)

With a callus for a ring,
the bishop was harvesting rice.
Bishop “hammer and sickle”?

They’ll call me a subversive.
And I’ll reply: I am.
I live for my people in struggle.
I march with my people on their way.

I have a guerrilla’s faith
and revolutionary love.
And between gospel and song
I suffer and say what I want.
If I scandalize, I started
by burning my own heart
in the flame of this Passion,
cross of his own wood.

I incite to subversion
against power and money.
I want to subvert the law
that degrades the people into a flock
and the government into a butcher.
(My shepherd became Iamb.
My king became servant.)

I believe in the International
of heads held high,
of speaking as equal to equal,
and of hands linked together …

And I call “order” evil,
and “progress” a lie.
I have less peace than wrath.
I have more love than peace….

… I believe in the sickle and the sheaf
of these fallen heads of grain:
one Death and so many lives!
I believe in this sickle advancing
— under this bare sun
and in common hope —
so curved and so stubborn!