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He found freedom in the river that rushed to the sea and peace in the palmas reales that swayed in the wind. Freedom, he believed, was the inherent right of all men and women. But his home island of Cuba was colonized by Spain, and some of the people were enslaved by rich landowners. Enraged, Marti took up his pen and fought against this oppression through his writings. By age seventeen, he was declared an enemy of Spain and forced to leave his beloved island.
Marti traveled the world, speaking out for Cuba's independence. But throughout his exile, he suffered from illness and homesickness. He found solace in New York's Catskill Mountains, where nature inspired him once again to fight for independence. As he wrote in his seminal book Versos sencillos (1891),
Yo soy un hombre sincero De donde crece la palma, Y antes de morirme quiero Echar mis versos del alma.
I am a sincere man From where the palm tree grows, And before I die I want To say the verses of my soul.
Written in verse, Marti's Song for Freedom is a beautiful tribute to a brilliant political writer and courageous fighter of freedom for all men and women.
Otheguy, Emma, "Marti's Song for Freedom: Book Presentation by Author Emma Otheguy" (2017). Cuban Research Institute Events. 337.
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