Education was always a big part of Jose Marti’s life, and because of the teachers who mentored him and the social injustice he learned, one can conclude the influence that schooling had on his writings. Despite growing up with little more than the bare necessities, Marti was fortunate enough to obtain a formal education that began during his trip to Spain with his parents at the age of four. Once travelling back to the island of Cuba, Marti’s primary education at a prep school for boys commenced. (Jose Marti Historic World) By beginning an education at such a young age, Jose Marti was exposed to a higher level of thinking which creates an early platform for his writing career. Teachers such as Rafael Mari de Mendive, intrigued the young Marti in Cuba’s fight for Independence from Spain. At the Instituto de Segunda Enseñanza de la Havana, the division in Cuba by political alliances and class were made known to Jose. His early writings brought awareness to the political problems and division found in Cuba under the rule of Spain. The teachers brought awareness to him about the societal issues and sparked the interest in him about Cuba’s politics and freedom. Most of his writings reflect his political ideas and opinions which come from his schooling as seen in the poem Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca, when he states “ I cultivate a white rose/ In July as in January/For the sincere friend/ Who gives me his hand frankly/And for the cruel person who tears/out the heart with which I live,/I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns:/I cultivate a white rose” (Jose Marti Poetry). Marti expresses the hopes he has for his homelands society. Throughout the poem, Jose Marti explains how he remains peaceful no matter whether a person is cruel or kind. With this poem, Marti wants the same basic concept to apply to all of society, especially in Cuba, to not judge based on ethnicity, race, or background differences. If all would take heed to the moral that lies withinCultivo Una Rosa Blanca, then all people could hold a strong bond with each other and remain united. Many of his writings follow a similar theme of Cuban freedom and politics which was originally addressed in his early education. The teachers of the young Marti influenced him to take part in Revolutionary actions in Cuba.
Forced out of his own country, Jose Marti travelled the world and engaged in a variety of experiences that are reflected in his writings. At the ages of fifteen and sixteen, his poetry and newspaper articles allowed his name as an author to become widespread. These early writings put him on trial for political reasoning where he explained that Cuba was entitled to hold its own form of government and sovereignty as well as have freedom from Spain. However this did not hold over well in court because he was sentenced to one year full of tiresome labor followed by six years in prison and then exile to Spain.(Jose Marti Contemporary)One of the benefits that came from his exile was that he was able to use freedom of the press to project his beliefs and life experiences.The hardships he faced in labor and in prison influenced the production of poems and essays. In, El Presidio Político En Cuba, Marti elaborates on the hardships faced as a prisoner under the Spanish supremacy in Cuba. Through this piece of literature, he is able to not only explain to the reader but also let them visualize what he has been through in these Cuban prisons. By doing so he is able to emotionally appeal to his audience and persuade them to share his political ideas in Revolutionizing Cuba.
Once being released from prison, Jose Marti’s continual travels impacted the topic of his literary works.After making Guatemala his home for some time, Jose Marti published a memoir of his time in Guatemala. Upon arrival in the mountainous landscape of Guatemala, Jose Marti was struck with awe by the natural beauty of the land as well as the native’s who inhabited the island. He believed that a blend of different cultures would a result in a more integrated and forward thinking society. His book Guatemala, explains the different cultures that are present as well as the countries nature and politics.It was on this island that Marti met the political leader Barrios whose dedication and economic ideas left Marti in adoration. Here he also met his future wife, Carmen Zayas Bazan, who would later bare him a son. From the land to the life, he had many new encounters that forever became apart of his life and writings. Throughout his time spent in Guatemala, Jose Marti observed different cultures, political ideas, and people that contribute to the influence of his writings during and after his visit.
Later travels to places like the United States resulted in Jose Marti’s publication of political essays which were based off government styles of the places he visited. Settling down in New York, Marti found himself writing Newspaper articles, poems, and books. A few political pieces written during his time in the United States include North American Scenes, North American Personalities, Our America, Abdala, La Opinión Nacional, and La Nación. Culture and politics of the United States are brought to the attention of Latin America through his literature pieces North American Scenes and Personalities. The Scenes includes social and political themes while Personalities tells about important American men as well as acknowledges and praises the use of democracy in the United States. Our America embodies the idea of uniting all Cubans for the fight for Independence. Another major works published by Marti, The Abdala, was a tribute to the Revolutionary actions in Cuba. Finally his newspaper articles, La Opinion Nacional and La Nación, allowed him to spread the word of his cause to many different parts of North and Latin America. (Jose Marti Introduction) Throughout his journey in North America, Jose Marti learned about famous literary authors who left their mark on America as well as how the government functioned. Politics was a common study of Marti that influenced the publication of many new poems, books, and articles wherever he went. North American politics seemed to have impacted the way he saw government and how it should be run. This gave him a new insight on how he wanted Cuba govern after freedom. Not only did United States politics give him ideas on the ideal government style for Cuba, but also it drove him to pursue the fight for freedom even more due to his new goals.
A life long struggle for Independence is an underlying factor in all of Jose Marti’s writings. For centuries Cubans have been slaves under Spanish rule, which was a starting point for a revolution. Because he was born during this important period of time in Cuban history, he was able to witness the injustice that occurred in his society from a young age. The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt of the Cuban people against the Spanish monarchy. Although Marti was not around long to witness the victory of his homeland, his writings and ideas were widespread and influential in the start of a war. His early death in the battle of Dos Rios in 1895 was a loss for Cuba. Despite his minimal contributions in battle, his writings brought awareness to this cause and inspired others to pursue the war.(Jose Marti Encyclopedia) Many of his literature works embody a theme of freedom from Spain as well as moral messages intended to make mankind better. Prior to battle, Martí published Resoluciones Adoptadas Por La Emigración Cubana de Tampa as well as Bases y Estatutos Secretos del Partido Revolucionario which are political pieces that contain his Revolutionary principle, a plan for the organization of a Revolutionary Party, and a political platform. Another major work includes the Manifesto of Montecristi, here he scribbed his last efforts of emphasizing his political ideas in conjunction with the first military strike against Spanish rule. (Jose Marti Introduction) The passion and dedication that Marti possesed for his country's freedom allowed him to use his gifted writing abilities to spread his beliefs that eventually millions more adopted. By making his cause known, he was able persuade others to join him in the fight for freedom. One of Marti’s most famous poems, Two Countries, expresses his true thoughts on the war in Cuba when he writes:
“I have two countries: Cuba and the night./ Or are both one? No sooner does the sun/ Withdraw its majesty, than Cuba,/ With long veils and holding a carnation,/ Appears as a sad and silent widow./ I know about the bloodstained carnation/ That trembles in her hand! My breast/Is empty, destroyed and empty/ Where the heart lay. Now is the time/ To commence dying. Night is a good time/ To say farewell.” (Marti, Jose Two Countries)
He uses this poem to express his thoughts on the Cuban Revolution. Here Marti states his belief in which he has two homes, Cuba and ‘the night’ or the fight for change in his country. Anger is reflected in the lines “sun/ withdraw its majesty” (lines 2-3) because he is inferring that he wants the Spanish to leave and never return. War is linked with the night because of the mystery they both hold, and in this poem, the reader can conclude that Marti believed the war was a necessity due to the fact that he said that freedom from Spain was worth dying for. Although Jose Marti did not live to witness freedom, it is easily concluded that his writings reflect his personal beliefs on the importance of Independence.