HEC Student Competition, Third Place: Olivia Thompson on “La Marioneta”

This spring, we held our first Humanities & Ethics Center Student Competition. We invited Drury students to submit a reflection, of no more than 300 words, on a record of the human experience that has affected them.  
A “record” here could come from any of the following categories: books,  films, essays, historical objects, religious texts & objects,  artworks & digital media, languages and cultures, authors, philosophers, religious or historical figures, monuments, or memorials.
During four Mondays of the summer, we will be publishing one of the four winning entries on our blog. Below is Olivia Thompson’s reflection on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s poem “La Marioneta,” which tied for third place with Madison Stehle’s reflection on a history class in Spanish and Picasso’s Guernica ($30 each). Additional winners include Bre Legan, whose discussion of the film Her who won first place ($75) and Sarah Fuller, whose “Layers of History,” which won second place ($50). 
We are proud to present their work to our readers, and delighted to have such strong students in the Humanities at Drury.

Olivia Thompson: On “La Marioneta”                

I first read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s poetry as a distracted sophomore in my high school Spanish class. I did not fully grasp the poignancy of his words—for lack of depth in my Spanish vocabulary, or simply boredom—and for many years, I had forgotten about the famous Colombian author entirely. Recently, however, I came across his poems again, while studying Spanish in college, and marveled in how much I had missed out on.

My favorite poem of Marquez is called The Puppet (La marioneta). Having read the poem many times in both English and its native Spanish, I find both translations to have different tones and meanings. This poem was Marquez’ farewell to his friends and family, as he was nearing the end of his life. The poem is remarkably simple, yet profoundly moving as Marquez explores the longing of the human spirit in the face of death. The poem hinges on the idea of what Marquez would do if God gave him a final ‘scrap of life’. My favorite line, in Spanish, reads: daría valor a las cosas, no por lo que valen/sino por lo que significan. Translated to English, this means ‘I would value things not for how much they are worth but rather for what they mean.’

Though Marquez was famous for his novel work (One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera), this poem resonates with me because of the circumstance. Though only a few years have passed since I first came across it, so much has seemingly changed. Certainly not the meaning; the meaning of this poem is timeless. All that has changed is my ability to grasp the meaning—both in terms of language and life—and to me, that makes it all the more beautiful.