Poet Cesar Vallejo

I was cleaning my desk an found a small metal box that I packed with little odds and ends including a copy one of my favorite poems by the masterful Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo. So I thought I’d write a post about him and include this poem, which I’ve read so many times.

Between pain and pleasure there are three
creatures. One looks at a wall,
the second puts on a sad disposition
and the third advances on tiptoes;
but, between you and me,
only second creatures exist.

Leaning on my forehead, the day
agrees that, in truth,
there is much accuracy in space;
but, if the happiness, that, after all, has size,
begins, alas! in my mouth,
who is going to ask me for my word?

To the instantaneous meaning of eternity
this encounter vested with black thread,
but to your temporal farewell,
corresponds solely what is immutable,
your creature, the soul, my word.

– Cesar Vallejo, from Payroll of Bones (1923-1936)

I found this poem in one of my favorite books the National Book Award winning Cesar Vallejo: The Complete Posthumous Poetry, 1978 translated by Clayton Eshleman and Jose Rubia Barcia. Now I’d like to buy The Complete Poetry, 2007, translated by Clayton Eshleman.


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