José Martí Quotes

92 Quotes Sorted by Search Results (Descending)

About José Martí

José Julián Martí Pérez (28 January 1853 – 19 May 1895) was a leader of the Cuban independence movement as well as an esteemed poet and writer. He is revered as a great national hero, and often referred to as El Apostol de la Independencia Cubana the Apostle of Cuban Independence.

Born: January 28th, 1853

Died: May 19th, 1895

Categories: West Indian poets, Authors, Cubans, 1890s deaths

Quotes: 92 sourced quotes total (includes 2 about)

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Words (count)414 - 133
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"Racist" is a confusing word, and it should be clarified. Men have no special rights simply because they belong to one race or another. When you say "men," you have already imbued them with all their rights.
Yo soy un hombre sincero De donde crece la palma Y antes de morirme quiero Echar mis versos del alma.
José Martí
I am an an honest man
From where the palm tree grows,
And I want, before I die,
to cast these verses from my soul.

 • I (Yo soy un hombre sincero) as translated by Esther Allen in José Martí : Selected Writings (2002), p. 273, ISBN 0142437042
• Variant translations:
• A sincere man am I
From the land where palm trees grow,
And I want before I die
My soul's verses to bestow.
 • "A Sincere Man Am I", as translated by Manuel A. Tellechea, in Versos Sencillos: Simple Verses (1997) ISBN 1558852042
I am a sincere man
from where the palm tree grows,
and before I die I wish
to pour forth the verses from my soul.

• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes, Simple Verses (1891): Versos sencillos (1891))
Cultivo una rosa blanca En julio como en enero, Para el amigo sincero Que me da su mano franca. Y para el cruel que me arranca El corazon con que vivo, Cardo ni ortiga cultivo, Cultivo una rosa blanca.
José Martí
I grow a white rose
In July just as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his frank hand.

And for the cruel man who pulls out of me
the heart with which I live,
I grow neither nettles nor thorns:
I grow a white rose.

 • As translated in Spanish-American Poetry : A Dual-language Anthology (1996) by Seymour Resnick ISBN 0486401715
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes, Simple Verses (1891): Versos sencillos (1891), I Grow a White Rose: "Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca" [I Grow a White Rose], said to have originally been sent to a friend who had betrayed him to the police.)
Love is... born with the pleasure of looking at each other, it is fed with the necessity of seeing each other, it is concluded with the impossibility of separation!
La patria es ara, no pedestal.
José Martí
• The motherland is an altar, not a platform.
 • As quoted in José Martí : Selected Writings (2002) translated by Esther Allen, p. xxi
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes)
Liberty is the right of every man to be honest, to think and to speak without hypocrisy.
Yo quiero salir del mundo por la puerta natural: en un carro de hojas verdes a morir me han de llevar. No me pongan en lo oscuro a morir como un traidor: yo soy bueno, y como bueno moriré de cara al sol.
José Martí
• I wish to leave the world
By its natural door;
In my tomb of green leaves
They are to carry me to die.
Do not put me in the dark
To die like a traitor;
I am good, and like a good thing
I will die with my face to the sun.

• ''A Morir [To Die] (1894)
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes)
Liberty the essence of life. Whatever is done without it is imperfect.
One just principle from the depths of a cave is more powerful than an army.
Man loves liberty, even if he does not know that he loves it. He is driven by it and flees from where it does not exist.
Like stones rolling down hills, fair ideas reach their objectives despite all obstacles and barriers. It may be possible to speed or hinder them, but impossible to stop them.
Life on earth is a hand-to-hand mortal combat... between the law of love and the law of hate.
José Martí
• Letter (1881), as quoted in The Conscience of Worms and the Cowardice of Lions : Cuban Politics and Culture in an American Context (1993) by Irving Louis Horowit, p. 11
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes)
All is beautiful and unceasing, all is music and reason, and all, like diamond, is carbon first, then light.
José Martí
• I (Yo soy un hombre sincero) as translated by Esther Allen in José Martí : Selected Writings (2002), p. 275
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes, Simple Verses (1891): Versos sencillos (1891))
A knowledge of different literatures is the best way to free one's self from the tyranny of any of them.
Mankind is composed of two sorts of men — those who love and create, and those who hate and destroy.
It is necessary to make virtue fashionable.
A grain of poetry suffices to season a century.
Day and night I always dream with open eyes.
José Martí
• "I dream awake" ["Ismaelillo"]
• As quoted in Great Hispanic-Americans (2005) by Nicolás Kanellos, Robert Rodriguez and Tamra Orr, p. 72
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes)
Others go to bed with their mistresses; I with my ideas.
Everything that divides men, everything that specified, separates or pens them, is a sin against humanity.
Peoples are made of hate and of love, and more of hate than love. But love, like the sun that it is, sets afire and melts everything.
Men of action, above all those whose actions are guided by love, live forever. Other famous men, those of much talk and few deeds, soon evaporate. Action is the dignity of greatness.
There is happiness in duty, although it may not seem so. To fulfill one's duty elevates the soul to a state of constant sweetness. Love is the bond between men, the way to teach and the center of the world.
In Cuba, there is no fear of a racial war. Men are more than whites, mulattos or Negroes. Cubans are more than whites, mulattos or Negroes. On the field of battle, dying for Cuba, the souls of whites and Negroes have risen together into the air.
Just as he who gives his life to serve a great idea is admirable, he who avails himself of a great idea to serve his personal hopes of glory and power is abominable, even if he too risks his life. To give one's life is a right only when one gives it unselfishly.
Perhaps the enemies of liberty are such only because they judge it by its loud voice. If they knew its charms, the dignity that accompanies it, how much a free man feels like a king, the perpetual inner light that is produced by decorous self-awareness and realization, perhaps there would be no greater friends of freedom than those who are its worst enemies.
We are free, but not to be evil, not to be indifferent to human suffering, not to profit from the people, from the work created and sustained through their spirit of political association, while refusing to contribute to the political state that we profit from. We must say no once more. Man is not free to watch impassively the enslavement and dishonor of men, nor their struggles for liberty and honor.
Ostentatious men who are governed by self-interest will combine, whether white or black, and the generous and selfless will similarly unite. True men, black and white, will treat one another with loyalty and tenderness, out of a sense of merit and the pride of everyone who honors the land in which we were born, black and white alike. Negroes, who now use the word "racist" in good faith, will stop using it when they realize it is the only apparently valid argument that weak men, who honestly believe that Negroes are inferior, use to deny them the full exercise of their rights as men. White and black racists would be equally guilty of racism.
Hatred, slavery's inevitable aftermath.
Oh, what company good poets are!
To beautify life is to give it an object.
To govern well, one must see things as they are.
That Martí is a madman — but a dangerous madman.
About José Martí
• Spanish Captain General Ramón Blanco, after hearing an address by Martí, as quoted in Inside the Monster : Writings on the United States and American Imperialism (1975) by José Martí, as translated by Elinor Randall, p. 27
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes about Martí)
Only those who hate the Negro see hatred in the Negro.
Rights are to be taken, not requested; seized, not begged for.
José Martí
• As quoted in Inside the Monster : Writings on the United States and American Imperialism (1975) by José Martí, as translated by Elinor Randall, p. 27
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes)
This is the age in which hills can look down upon the mountains.
Man needs to go outside himself in order to find repose and reveal himself.
Poetry is the work of the bard and of the people who inspire him.
Wings I saw springing from fair women's shoulders, and from beneath rubble I've seen butterflies flutter.
José Martí
• I (Yo soy un hombre sincero) as translated by Esther Allen in José Martí : Selected Writings (2002), p. 273
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes, Simple Verses (1891): Versos sencillos (1891))
The vote is the most effective and merciful instrument that man has devised to manage his affairs.
My poems please the brave: My poems, short and sincere, Have the force of steel Which forges swords.
He who could have been a torch and stoops to being a pair of jaws is a deserter.
Man needs to suffer. When he does not have real griefs he creates them. Griefs purify and prepare him.
I have lived in the monster and I know its insides; and my sling is the sling of David.
José Martí
• Of the United States, in a letter to Manuel Mercado (1895), as quoted in Research : The Student's Guide to Writing Research Papers (1998) by Richard Veit, p. 143
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes)
A nation is not a complex of wheels, nor a wild horse race, but a stride upward concerted by real men.
I know that when the world surrenders, pallid, to repose, the murmur of a tranquil stream through the deep silence flows.
José Martí
• I (Yo soy un hombre sincero) as translated by Esther Allen in José Martí : Selected Writings (2002), p. 275
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes, Simple Verses (1891): Versos sencillos (1891))
Freedoms, like privileges, prevail or are imperiled together You cannot harm or strive to achieve one without harming or furthering all.
Once I reveled in a destiny like no other joy I'd known: when the warden — reading my death sentence — wept.
José Martí
• I (Yo soy un hombre sincero) as translated by Esther Allen in José Martí : Selected Writings (2002), p. 273
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes, Simple Verses (1891): Versos sencillos (1891))
My poems are like a dagger Sprouting flowers from the hilt; My poetry is like a fountain Sprinkling streams of coral water.
Terrible times in which priests no longer merit the praise of poets and in which poets have not yet begun to be priests.
Knowing is what counts. To know one's country and govern it with that knowledge is the only way to free it from tyranny.
The whole afternoon was spent rejoicing as the demonstration spread across the city; no one walked alone for all San Juan was a single family.
Men are products, expressions, reflections; they live to the extent that they coincide with their epoch, or to the extent that they differ markedly from it.
It was imperative to make common cause with the oppressed , in order to secure a new system opposed to the ambitions and governing habits of the oppressors.'''
The general holds back his cavalry to a pace that suits his infantry, for if its infantry is left behind, the cavalry will be surrounded by the enemy.
Every human being has within him an ideal man, just as every piece of marble contains in a rough state a statue as beautiful as the one that Praxiteles the Greek made of the god Apollo.
A genuine man goes to the roots. To be a radical is no more than that: to go to the roots. He who does not see things in their depth should not call himself a radical.
The spirit of a government must be that of the country. The form of a government must come from the makeup of the country. Government is nothing but the balance of the natural elements of a country.
To insist on racial divisions, on racial differences, in an already divided people, is to place obstacles in the way of public and individual happiness, which can only be obtained by bringing people together as a nation.
The trees must form ranks to keep the giant with seven-league boots from passing! It is the time of mobilization, of marching together, and we must go forward in close ranks, like silver in the veins of the Andes.
Government must originate in the country. The spirit of government must be that of the country Its structure must conform to rules appropriate to the country. Good government is nothing more than the balance of the country's natural elements.
Let the world be grafted onto our republics, but the trunk must be our own. And let the vanquished pedant hold his tongue, for there are no lands in which a man may take greater pride than in our long-suffering American republics.
It is the duty of man to raise up man. One is guilty of all abjection that one does not help to relieve. Only those who spread treachery, fire, and death out of hatred for the prosperity of others are undeserving of pity.
Man is not an image engraved on a silver dollar, with covetous eyes, licking lips and a diamond pin on a silver dickey. Man is a living duty, a depository of powers that he must not leave in a brute state. Man is a wing.
Many houses were still full of light when, at the close of March 22, the people of the Círculo returned to their homes, which were gladdened with a fleeting gladness by an hour of justice — for there are still many slaves, black and white, in Puerto Rico!
Barricades of ideas are worth more than barricades of stones. There is no prow that can cut through a cloudbank of ideas. A powerful idea, waved before the world at the proper time, can stop a squadron of iron-clad ships, like the mystical flag of the Last judgement.
We light the oven so that everyone may bake bread in it. If I survive, I will spend my whole life at the oven door seeing that no one is denied bread and, so as to give a lesson of charity, especially those who did not bring flour.
To busy oneself with what is futile when one can do something useful, to attend to what is simple when one has the mettle to attempt what is difficult, is to strip talent of its dignity. It is a sin not to do what one is capable of doing.
Happiness exists on earth, and it is won through prudent exercise of reason, knowledge of the harmony of the universe, and constant practice of generosity. He who seeks it elsewhere will not find it for, having drunk from all the glasses of life, he will find satisfaction only in those.
While it is the sovereign right of the Cuban people to cherish Jose Marti as their own son of the soil it can be said honestly and accurately without the slightest disagreement from the unselfish, Cuban people that Marti belongs not only to Cuba but to all of the Americas.
One must have faith in the best in men and distrust the worst. One must allow the best to be shown so that it reveals and prevails over the worst. Nations should have a pillory for whoever stirs up useless hate, and another for whoever fails to tell them the truth in time.
I come from all places and to all places I go: I am art among the arts and mountain among mountains. I know the strange names of flowers and herbs and of fatal deceptions and magnificent griefs. In night's darkness I've seen raining down on my head pure flames, flashing rays of beauty divine.
José Martí
• I (Yo soy un hombre sincero) as translated by Esther Allen in José Martí : Selected Writings (2002), p. 273
• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes, Simple Verses (1891): Versos sencillos (1891))
The struggles waged by nations are weak only when they lack support in the hearts of their women. But when women are moved and lend help, when women, who are by nature calm and controlled, give encouragement and applause, when virtuous and knowledgeable women grace the endeavor with their sweet love, then it is invincible.
Socialist ideology, like so many others, has two main dangers. One stems from confused and incomplete readings of foreign texts, and the other from the arrogance and hidden rage of those who, in order to climb up in the world, pretend to be frantic defenders of the helpless so as to have shoulders on which to stand.
The merit and strength of a people are measured by their enthusiasm for freedom when the only rewards from it are anguish and martyrdom, the blood and ashes of exile, the sorrow of a house driven by the waves, and the shame of a useless life that lacks the foundation and peace of mind needed to do one's share of the common task.
Through a marvelous law of natural compensation, he who gives of himself grows, and he who turns inward and lives from small pleasures, is afraid to share them with others, and only thinks avariciously of cultivating his appetites loses his humanity and becomes loneliness itself. He carries in his breast all the dreariness of winter. He becomes in fact and appearance an insect.
In truth, men speak too much of danger. Let others be terrified by the natural and healthy risks of life! We shall not be frightened! Poison sumac grows in a hard-working man's field, the serpent hisses from its hidden den, and the owl's eye shines in the belfry, but the sun goes on lighting the sky, and truth continues marching across the earth unscathed.
It is not the form of things that must be attended to but their spirit. The real is what matters, not the apparent. In politics, reality is that which is unseen. Politics is the art of combining a nation’s diverse or opposing factors to the benefit of its domestic well-being, and of saving the country from the open enmity or covetous friendship of other nations.
Fortunately, there is a sane equilibrium in the character of nations, as there is in that of men. The force of passion is balanced by the force of interest. An insatiable appetite for glory leads to sacrifice and death, but innate instinct leads to self-preservation and life. A nation that neglects either of these forces perishes. They must be steered together, like a pair of carriage horses.
The conceited villager believes the entire world to be his village. Provided that he can be mayor, humiliate the rival who stole his sweetheart, or add to the savings in his strongbox, he considers the universal order good, unaware of those giants with seven-league boots who can crush him underfoot, or of the strife in the heavens between comets that go through the air asleep, gulping down worlds.
In nations composed of both cultured and uncultured elements, the uncultured will govern because it is their habit to attack and resolve doubts with their fists in cases where the cultured have failed in the art of governing. The uncultured masses are lazy and timid in the realm of intelligence, and they want to be governed well. But if the government hurts them, they shake it off and govern themselves.
Newspapers, universities and schools should encourage the study of the country's pertinent components. To know them is sufficient, without mincing words; for whoever brushes aside even a part of the truth, whether through intention or oversight, is doomed to fall. The truth he lacks thrives on negligence, and brings down whatever is built without it. It is easy to resolve our problem knowing its components than resolve them without knowing them.
Sueño con claustros de mármol donde en silencio divino los héroes, de pie, reposan; ¡de noche, a la luz del alma, hablo con ellos: de noche! Están en fila: paseo entre las filas: las manos de piedra les beso: abren los ojos de piedra: mueven los labios de piedra: tiemblan las barbas de piedra: empuñan la espada de piedra: lloran: ¡viba la espade en la vaina! Mudo, les beso la mano.
José Martí
• I dream of cloisters of marble
where in divine silence
the heroes, standing, rest;
at night, in light of the soul,
I speak with them: at night!
They are in a row: I walk
among the rows: the stone hands
I kiss them;
the stone eyes open;
the stone lips move;
the stone beards tremble;
they seize the sword of stone; they cry:
place the sword in the sheath!
Mute, I kiss their hand.

• Source: Wikiquote: "José Martí" (Quotes, Simple Verses (1891): Versos sencillos (1891), I dream of cloisters of marble: "Sueño con claustros de mármol" [I dream of cloisters of marble])
A child, from the time he can think, should think about all he sees, should suffer for all who cannot live with honesty, should work so that all men can be honest, and should be honest himself. A child who does not think about what happens around him and is content with living without wondering whether he lives honestly is like a man who lives from a scoundrel's work and is on the road to being a scoundrel.
There can be no racial animosity, because there are no races. The theorist and feeble thinkers string together and warm over the bookshelf races which the well-disposed observer and the fair-minded traveller vainly seek in the justice of Nature where man's universal identity springs forth from triumphant love and the turbulent huger for life. The soul, equal and eternal, emanates from bodies of different shapes and colors. Whoever foments and spreads antagonism and hate between the races, sins against humanity.
Talent is a gift that brings with it an obligation to serve the world, and not ourselves, for it is not of our making. To use for our exclusive benefit what is not ours is theft. Culture, which makes talent shine, is not completely ours either, nor can we place it solely at our disposal. Rather, it belongs mainly to our country, which gave it to us, and to humanity, from which we receive it as a birthright. A selfish man is a thief.
The youth of America are rolling up their sleeves, digging their hands in the dough, and making it rise with the sweat of their brows. They realize that there is too much imitation, and that creation holds the key to salvation. "Create" is the password of this generation. The wine is made from plantain, but even if it turns sour, it is our own wine! That a country's form of government must be in keeping with its natural elements is a foregone conclusion. Absolute ideas must take relative forms if they are not to fail because of an error in form. Freedom, to be viable, has to be sincere and complete. If a republic refuses to open its arms to all, and move ahead with all, it dies.
Politics and strategy are one. Nations should live in an atmosphere of self-criticism because it is healthy, but always with one heart and one mind. Stoop to the unhappy, and lift them up in your arms! Thaw out frozen America with the fire of your hearts! Make the natural blood of the nations´ course vigorously through their veins! The new American are on their feet, saluting each other from nation to nation, the eyes of the laborers shining with joy. The natural statesman arises, schooled in the direct study of Nature. He reads to apply his knowledge, not to imitate.
There are men who live contented through they live without decorum. Others suffer as if in agony when they see around them people living without decorum. There must be a certain amount of decorum in the world, just as there must be a certain amount of light. When there are many men without decorum, there are always others who themselves possess the decorum of many men. These are the ones who rebel with terrible strength against those who rob nations of their liberty, which is to rob men of their decorum. Embodied in those men are thousands of men, a whole people, human dignity.
America began to suffer, and still suffers, from the tiresome task of reconciling the hostile and discordant elements it inherited from the despotic and perverse colonizer, and the imported methods and ideas which have been retarding logical government because they are lacking in local realities. Thrown out of gear for three centuries by a power which denied men the right to use their reason, the continent disregarded or closed its ears to the unlettered throngs that helped bring it to redemption, and embarked on a government based on reason-a reason belonging to all for the common good, not the university brand of reason over the peasant brand. The problem of independence did not lie in a change of forms but in change of spirit.
What right do white racist, who believe their race is superior, have for complaining about black racists, who see something special in their own race? What right do black racists, who see a special character in their race, have for complaining about white racists? White men who think their race makes them superior to black men admit the idea of racial difference and authorize and initiate black racists. Black men who proclaim their race — when what they are really proclaiming is the spiritual identity that distinguishes one ethnic group from another — authorize and incite white racists. Peace demands of Nature the recognition of human rights; discrimination is contrary to Nature and to the enemy of peace. Whites who isolate themselves also isolate Negroes. Negroes who isolate themselves incite and isolate whites.
When a nation is invited to join in a union with another, the ignorant, bedazzled statesman might rush into it, young people enamored of beautiful ideas and lacking good sense might celebrate it, and venal or demented politicians might welcome it as a mercy and glorify it with servile words, but he who feels in his heart the anguish of the patria, he who watches and foresees, must investigate and must say what elements constitute the character of the nation that invites and the nation that is invited, and whether they are predisposed toward a common labor by common antecedents and habits, and whether or not it is probable that the fearsome elements of the inviting nation will, in the union it aspires to, be developed to the endangerment of the invited one.

End José Martí Quotes