On Buried Seeds: The history of ‘They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.’

Quisieron enterrarnos, pero se les olvido que somos semillas.

I first encountered this Mexican dicho in the mid-90?s reading poems and graffiti from Zapatistas. Then, when we lost the Ayotzinapa 43, the refrain came back as if a whole crop of teachers were about to burst from the earth in Iguala.

The phrase itself isn?t utterly unique, for instance it echoes Dr. Ganda Singh?s rebellious verse: ?Mannu is our scythe and we his creepers, the more he hews us the more we grow.? And probably a dozen other similar sentiments besides. But this specific formulation, sticks out in my heart. Something about the dicho?s language is powerful.

But it turns out the dicho, isn?t a Mexican dicho at all, but cribbed from the Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos? original verse from ????? ???????? ? ?? ????? ??? ?? ?????? aimed squarely at those who would have erased him:

??? ?? ??? ?????? ??? ?? ?? ?????????? ???????? ??? ????? ??????

What didn?t you do to bury mebut you forgot I was a seed.

Born in 1931, in Greece?s second city Thessaloniki, Christianopoulos writes a kind of confessional poetry that once ostracized him from Greek and international society. Today his poetry and music, whether translated by context or language, retain a deep power. That perhaps his most known work doesn?t have his name attached to it seems like a grave disservice. I don?t want to contribute to his burial any longer.

Thank you to Natalie Diaz for correcting my ignorance.

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