The Second Death of Don Severiano

Photo: Severiano Núñez, wearing glasses, with a colleague and school children. Published in El Pais on 26 January 2003.

Barrado, near Cáceres, Spain.  18 September 2006

The village schoolteacher, Don Severiano Nuñez, was shot in 1936 for allegedly teaching religious and political ideas unacceptable to the regime.  An old pupil of his recalls, “In his classes there was no religion, no politics.  We only did algebra and Spanish.”  A plaque unveiled to his memory in 2002 was destroyed a few days ago. It lasted just four years.

Let’s think once more of the Civil War,

It’s time to look at it again.

The carpet under which it’s swept,

Is threadbare now with age,

And the wounds are showing through,

And so,

Forgive but do not forget.

It’s time to make some sense

Of the outrage,

Of the good and of the bad,

On both sides of the fence.

It’s now time to be strong,

To look it in the face.

The sleeping dogs have lain asleep too long.

The schoolteacher, Don Severiano,

Was killed again today,

When someone with reserves of hate

Took a hammer to the slate,

And yet

Forgive but do not forget.

Find the graves where Spaniards have lain,

Massed together in the soil of Spain,

A hundred bodies, not a single name,

For seventy years.

Seventy years of official neglect,

But their mothers and sisters did not forget.

With no axe to grind,

With no preconceived agenda,

Rewrite the books and then read them all again.

Relive it in the heart,

Relive it in the brain,

And then forgive.