Thursday, October 4, 2012

Aimless Reading: The T's, Part 1 (César Vallejo)

The Complete Poetry of César Vallejo
Vallejo, Cesar
The Complete Poetry

Tr. Clayton Eshleman

Sent as a review copy by the publisher. I remember receiving this when we lived at our house in Black Rock. It was a very productive writing period for me. I woke up early every morning, often before the sun rose. I'd fix myself a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee and read a poem of Vallejo's while I ate. I think I was also taking notes on words I didn't understand in Spanish. I may even have had a Spanish dictionary by my side.

This was before I started reading all of those novels in Spanish, so my reading chops were not the sharpest. I could make it haltingly through one poem each morning. After that, I'd go into my office and work on my poetry. I think this was in the period just before I was writing the poems that eventually made up most of Human Scale.

I think I was also going to the gym early in the morning, too. I wish I could always remain that productive. It's hard to work, write, have a relationship AND go to the gym on regular basis. Throw a baby, a dog and two cats in the mix, and something has to give. Usually it ends up being the gym. Sigh. If only I could sleep a little less.

from The Complete Poetry of Cesar Vallejo


Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes... Yo no sé.
Golpes como del odio de Dios; como si ante ellos,
la resaca de todo lo sufrido
se empozara en el alma... Yo no sé.

Son pocos; pero son... Abren zanjas oscuras
en el rostro más fiero y en el lomo más fuerte.
Serán tal vez los potros de bárbaros atilas;
o los heraldos negros que nos manda la Muerte.

Son las caídas hondas de los Cristos del alma,
de alguna fe adorable que el Destino blasfema.
Esos golpes sangrientos son las crepitaciones
de algún pan que en la puerta del horno se nos quema.

Y el hombre... Pobre... pobre! Vuelve los ojos, como
cuando por sobre el hombro nos llama una palmada;
vuelve los ojos locos, y todo lo vivido
se empoza, como un charco de culpa, en la mirada.

Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes ... Yo no sé!


There are blows in life, so powerful...I don't know!
Blows a from the hatred of God; as if facing them,
the undertow of everything suffered
welled up in the soul...I don't know!

They are few; but they are...They open dark trenches
in the fiercest face and in the strongest back.
Perhaps they are the colts of barbaric Attilas;
or the black heralds sent to us by Death.

They are the deep falls of the Christs of the soul,
of some adored faith blasphemed by Destiny.
Those bloodstained blows are the crackling of
bread burning up at the oven door.

And man...Poor...poor! He turns his eyes, as 
when a slap on the shoulder summons us;
turns his crazed eyes, and everything lived
wells up, like a pool of guilt, in his look.

There are blows in life, so powerful...I don't know!

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