It is forbidden to cry without learning, to
get up one day without knowing what to do, to
be afraid of my memories, to
feel lonely sometime.
It is likely that these four verses ring a bell and that the entire poem has reached you in the mail on occasion. Or you may have even seen it on Facebook, accompanied by dozens of "likes". Or recited in a YouTube video. Most of the time, with the signature of Pablo Neruda.
But It is forbidden is not the work of the Chilean, Nobel Prize in 1971. Its author is Alfredo Cuervo Barrero, from Portugalete (Vizcaya) and born in 1980. He published the poem on July 23, 2001, as he tells Verne by phone, in Deusto .com. So, this website was a forum in which young writers could publish their texts and receive advice from other users. For example, thanks to the recommendation of one of these readers, he added the first three stanzas, which serve as an introduction to his poem.
A couple of years later, he adds, "I started receiving messages calling me a scoundrel" for having plagiarized none other than Neruda. Thus he learned that his poem was circulating by email and on other pages with the signature of the Chilean writer.
The story of Cuervo Barrero is not a unique case. The poem of a Mexican ventriloquist has circulated with the signature of Gabriel García Márquez. A Sevillian from Los amigos de Ginés is often shared with the signature of Federico García Lorca. The Saramago Foundation has been denying for years that the novelist was the author of a text about what it is to be a son, with little success. The same little success that the Mario Benedetti Foundation has when it denies that the Uruguayan is the author of the poetry Do not give up .
As the agency France Presse explained, even former Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez read this poem falsely attributed to Benedetti when he left office in the hands of his successor Luis Lacalle Pou. The foundation that takes care of the poet's legacy pointed out that the confusion could come from the fact that Benedetti signed a poem with a somewhat similar title, Don't save yourself. We do not know who is the author of Do not give up: we have searched a lot, but honestly, we have ended up giving up.
The impossible denial
Cuervo Barrero tried to stop the false attribution of his poem. He got to spend "two or three hours a day" tracking and writing to the websites that shared the poem without attributing the authorship, but ended up leaving it "impossible". "I don't know if it's very appropriate to say it right now, but it was running like a virus without a vaccine." There is still a trace in Google of his efforts to amend the error, including, as early as 2011, a comment on the blog of Iñaki Anasagasti, deputy of the PNV.
Cuervo Barrero only intervenes when he sees his text published in a book. And, if we search Google Books, we can see that the poem has reached a good handful of essays that cite it as if it were the work of the Chilean writer. Its original author explains that he has won lawsuits against publishers (Planeta, for example) to prevent his poem from appearing in new editions of these books. In one of these trials they have accused him, he adds, of having plotted the entire plot and having spread his poem from the beginning with a false signature to make himself known.
The journalist David Jiménez also saw the authorship of one of his texts taken away and also tried at first to fight against this false attribution. In 2012 he published in his personal blog "The triumph of the mediocre", an article in which he believed that to succeed in Spain you had to be that, a mediocre. Jiménez tells Verne by email that "the first day it was read by 120,000 people, people sent me photographs with the text posted in their office, songs were written with the lyrics and videos were posted on YouTube ...". Then Jiménez was a correspondent in Asia for El Mundo, newspaper he edited in 2015 and 2016.
A few months later and despite this repercussion, his text was already shared attributed to Forges. "At first I claimed it as mine," Jiménez explains, "but over time I decided to take it with Forgian humor and accept that at least he did not have to share his authorship with Belén Esteban." Jiménez also met readers who believed that it was he who had appropriated the text: "There were people who wrote indignantly to me accusing me of plagiarism."
His own article reaches him "every year several times by WhatsApp, email or Facebook." For example, it was circulated again when Forges passed away in 2018, and can still be found on pages and forums, attributed to the cartoonist. Jiménez has also seen it with the signature of Juan José Millas, Mario Vargas Llosa and an anonymous "but brilliant" university professor. It is often accompanied by an introduction such as "Forges' article you should not miss." "Sometimes I do not resist and answer: Very good, I could not have written it better ".
And, as also happened to Cuervo Barrero, there were those who were not only content to change the signature, but also made modifications to the original article. "It bothers me more that parts of the text change," he says. "I suppose it is a confirmation that what the text says about our mediocrity: we don't even know how to copy."
History of the apocryphal texts
Susana Gil-Albarellos, professor of Theory of Literature at the University of Valladolid, explains that attributing works to other authors is something that has always happened, even before the internet, and "always in parallel to official literature." Gil-Albarellos explains that in the Middle Ages the prestige of monasteries depended on their library, so it was common for a text to be copied, translated or adapted when a text arrived, adding the abbot's signature at the end.
Another moment in which many signatures were changed was that of the Golden Age theater. It was common, Gil-Albarellos says, for a theatrical businessman to buy a play and claim it was from Calderón de la Barca or Lope de Vega to sell more. tickets. "Lope de Vega has attributed almost a thousand titles, but surely we cannot say that more than 300 are his." The professor quotes Calderón himself, who in 1677 complained in the prologue to an edition of his sacramental records of the publication of texts that "without being mine walk with my name".
From the 18th and 19th centuries the modern idea of the author and his rights was consolidated, but that did not end, much less, with the apocrypha. For example, in 1999 a new text by Bécquer, Unida a la muerte, was published , which in the 1930s had already been published with the poet's signature and was considered another of his Legends. However, in 2007 it was confirmed that it was actually a translation of a Byron narrative poem.
In addition to selling tickets or copies of books, the signature was often changed for political reasons, without permission from its original authors. As it happens now: a criticism of the process will be shared more if it is signed by someone known, such as the filmmaker Isabel Coixet, and a complaint about the society in which we live perhaps goes further if the firm Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Or Forges.
A positive experience
Despite all the headaches, Cuervo Barrero fondly remembers the poem. He no longer writes and sees that time as something distant. "Life is taking you down another path," he explains. Now he lives in Castro-Urdiales with his family and works in the personnel department of a company. His text ended, along with other poetry and texts, in a self-published book, Center and Contour.
He gives an example of the good things his Forbidden brought him : a few weeks ago a reader from Mexico wrote to him to ask how he was doing. She was not a friend or anything like that, just a person who had come to her poem a couple of years ago and who, with everything that was happening with the coronavirus in Spain, had remembered him. "Those things come to your soul."
Alfonso Cuervo Barrero
What is really important?,
I look inside for the answer,
and it's so hard for me to find.
False ideas invade my mind,
accustomed to masking what she does not understand,
stunned in a world of delusions,
where vanity, fear, wealth,
violence, hatred, indifference,
they become beloved heroes.
You ask me how can you be happy
how among so many lies can one coexist,
each one has to answer,
although for me, here, now and forever:
it is forbidden to cry without learning,
wake up one day not knowing what to do,
be afraid of my memories,
feel lonely sometime
It is forbidden not to smile at problems,
not fight for what I want,
abandon everything for being afraid,
not make my dreams come true.
It is forbidden not to show you my love,
make you pay my doubts and my bad mood,
make up things that never happened,
remember you only when I don't have you.
It is forbidden to leave my friends,
not trying to understand what we live,
call them only when I need them,
not to see that we are also different.
It is forbidden not to be me in front of people,
pretend to people I don't care about,
make me funny as long as they remember me,
forget all the people who love me.
It is forbidden not to do things by myself,
not believe in my god and make my destiny,
be afraid of life and its punishments,
not live each day as if it were a last breath.
It is forbidden to miss you without rejoicing,
forget the moments that made me love you,
all because our ways have stopped embracing each other,
forget our past and pay for it with our present.
It is forbidden not to try to understand people,
to think that their lives are worth more than mine,
not knowing that everyone has their way and their happiness,
to think that with his lack the world ends.
It is forbidden not to create my story,
stop thanking my family for my life,
not having a moment for the people who need me,
not understanding that what life gives us also takes it away from us.
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