Negro Bembon by Nicolas Guillen

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Negro Bembon by Nicolas Guillen

Rosmery Zoquier
Negro Bembón
¿Po qué te pone tan brabo,
cuando te dicen negro bembón,
si tiene la boca santa,
negro bembóm?
Bembón así como ere
tiene de tó;
Caridá te mantiene, te lo dá tó.
Te queja todabía,
negro bembón;
sin pega y con harina,
negro bembón,
majagua de drí blanco,
negro bembón;
sapato de dó tono,
negro bembón.
Bembón así como ere
tiene de tó;
Caridá te mantiene, te lo dá tó.

THICK LIPPED CULLUD BOY

How come you jumps salty
when they calls you thick-lipped boy,
if yo’ mouf’s so sweet,
thick-lipped cullud boy?

Thick-lipped as you is
you got everything.
Charity’s payin’ yo’ keep.
She’s givin’ you all you need.

Still you go around beefin’,
thick-lipped cullud boy.
No work an’ plenty money,
thick-lipped cullud boy.
White suit jes’ spotless,
thick-lipped cullud boy.
Shoes two shades o’ honey,
thick-lipped cullud boy.

Thick-lipped as you is
you got everything.
Charity’s payin’ yo’ keep,
she’s givin’ all you want.

Translated by Langston Hughes and Ben Frederic Carruthers, in Cuba Libre (1948).



 
Nicolas Guillen has come to be known as the national poet of Cuba, Nicolas has been recognized because of he was known as one of the few Latin American Poets that showed Afro themes throughout his poetry. In Guillen poem "Negro Bembon" the Afro Themes are deeply portrayed in the title itself it can be translated to "Thick-Lipped Colored Boy". Throughout the poem "Negro Bembon" Nicolas Guillen shows various literary elements and literary techniques to help enhance how the reader understands the surface and deeper meaning of the poem. In "Negro Bembon" Nicolas Guillen uses several literary techniques like allusion, imagery and repetition.

The speaker in the poem "Negro Bembon" is saying that the thick lipped colored boy has everything he needs in life but that all he worries about is the fact that everybody calls him “thick lipped colored boy.” Throughout the poem Guillen use a lot of repetition of the phrase "negro bembon". The constant repletion of that phrase gives the poem a tone as if the speaker was to be critiquing the person he is talking about. In the third stanza the speaker says "negro bembon. majagua de dri blanco, negro bembon; sapato de do tono," this translated means " thick-lipped colored boy. White suit jes' spotless, thick-lipped colored boy.” the speakers tone is very bitter because the thick lipped colored boy is ungrateful of what he has: he has fancy clothes, fancy shoes but he still seems to get mad when somebody calls him a thick-lipped colored boy. The thick lipped colored boy isn't happy even though he has everything. That is the surface meaning of this poem. This poem was written by an Afro-Cuban himself so therefore there is a deeper meaning to it. The meaning of this poem is simple this poem is about a black boy who is not happy with himself. He isn't happy with the fact that he is black. He has all the things in the world and he did not need to work for them but he still is not happy because he is black.

The speaker of the poem could be Guillen himself but we do not know in fact if it is. The speaker has a very bitter and disbelieving tone towards the person he is speaking about. In the first stanza the speaker says "¿Po qué te pone tan brabo, cuando te disen negro bembón, si tiene la boca santa, negro bembóm?" which translates to “How come you jumps salty when they calls you thick-lipped boy, if yo’ mouf’s so sweet thick-lipped cullud boy?” The speaker has a very interrogative bitter tone towards the thick-lipped colored boy. He, the speaker, is asking the thick-lipped colored boy why is it that he gets mad when somebody calls him thick-lipped colored boy. Even though the speaker also has a very monotone voice you can still feel there is some type of envy in the background. One literary device that Guillen uses in this poem is allusion, in the first stanza the 2-3 line it says "cuando te disen negro bembón, si tiene la boca santa." This is an example of allusion because it makes reference to religion. It says "boca santa" which means holy mouth, this is an allusion to religion because the speaker is asking the thick-lipped colored boy if he is so holy then why does he get mad  when they call him thick-lipped colored boy.

 Another literary technique is imagery. Guillen uses imagery to show the reader the situation the thick-lipped colored boy is in. He also uses imagery to enhance the poem, for example in the third stanza it shows "majagua de dri blanco, Negro bembón; sapato de do tono, Negro bembón." This is where you can actually visualize how rich the thick-lipped colored boy is, he has fancy white suit jacket and has two toned fancy shoes and he still is not happy. Guillen uses imagery to help the readers see he rich he is and that no matter what he still gets upset when somebody calls him thick-lipped colored boy.  Not only does the imagery help enhance the poem but it also helps enhance the bigger aspect behind it; the racial component. Guillen is trying to show how no matter how successful or how fancy the people would still call him thick-lipped colored boy. Since nobody ever notices him, only as a thick-lipped boy he takes it as an offensive term.

Nicolas Guillen was born and raised in Cuba; he himself was a mix of African and Spanish decent. This led him to be one of the few Latino Poets that influenced African culture and their poetry. Guillen himself was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War. After the Spanish republic was defeated, he returned back home to Cuba. Guillen was influenced a lot by political and social movements. Eventually he joined the communist party in Cuba. Guillen himself went through lots of trouble, was thrown into jail and eventually exiled from Cuba while Fulgencio Batista was in power in the 1950s.

To conclude, Nicolas Guillen's background became very influential to his poetry, the political and social reforms and the fact that he was and African and Spanish decent were very influential to his poetry, it lead him to be a very successful Latino poet in Cuba. Nicolas Guillen used in his poem "Negro Bembon" various literary devices to enhance the readers experience and enhance the poem.


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Re: Negro Bembon by Nicolas Guillen

Abdiel Cabral
This is a very good analysis. You do a good job of breaking down the poem piece by piece and it helps the reader understand the deeper meaning of the poem. It was a good idea for you to put the translation in the poem because as you already know, not a lot of people can read spanish. I find it interesting in the poem, that the man who is dressed in fancy clothes dose not understand why the dark-skinned male is feeling anger towards the male for making fun of his big lips. In the analysis you mention allusion was used in the poem and that it was connected to religion, but do you think there is another example of allusion being connected to a point in history?
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Re: Negro Bembon by Nicolas Guillen

Rosmery Zoquier
Yes I do agree there is a allusion in my poem to history mainly because he is a colored boy and the author himself is a afro-Spanish decent. I feel that the authors life reflects greatly onto this poem because of the character and the author both are of African decent.
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Re: Negro Bembon by Nicolas Guillen

Abdiel Cabral
Yeah that is somewhere along the lines of what I was thinking. But actually, I was thinking how this situation of a man making fun of someone with big lips to the Holocaust where the Germans made fun of the Jews for there long noses.
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Re: Negro Bembon by Nicolas Guillen

Jonathan Yunga
In reply to this post by Rosmery Zoquier
TYRAAA THIS IS TYRAA , Good translations and i like how depth your analysis is