The kind of love that runs through the veins of a poet – in this case, César Vallejo – seems incomprehensible. Since its obscurity mystifies me, I occasionally end up losing interest. I can't relate to it that much. Sometimes, I don't even try. Other times, I wished I hadn't.
Melancolía, dejame de secarme la vida.“Avestruz” (21)
My first Vallejo. I enjoyed reading the poems I was able to connect with, naturally; not many but enough. This poet thoroughly explored themes such as religion and love in a book published in 1918. It was his first book and still, there is a halo of maturity in his work. This collection has been named after the first poem, "Los Heraldos Negros" ("The Black Heralds"); its beauty and complexity explains such honor. Its verses, shrouded in mystique, illustrate how Vallejo links the human sorrow and disappointment to several religious images, as he ascribes some misfortunes to the amalgamation of free will and the activity (or lack of it) of a supreme being. There is a palpable sense of loss and guilt in a world where explanations are everything but perspicuous. His harrowing “I don't know!” breaks the silence and leaves me wondering about that enigmatic poet; the possibility that everything might have always been in his hands.
Los Heraldos NegrosHay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes... ¡Yo no sé!Golpes como del odio de Dios; como si ante ellos,la resaca de todo lo sufridose empozara en el alma. ¡Yo no sé!Son pocos; pero son. Abren zanjas oscurasen 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.Estos golpes sangrientos son las crepitacionesde algún pan que en la puerta del horno se nos quema.Y el hombre. Pobre. ¡Pobre! Vuelve los ojos, comocuando por sobre el hombro nos llama una palmada;vuelve los ojos locos, y todo lo vividose empoza, como charco de culpa, en la mirada.Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes. ¡Yo no sé!*The Black HeraldsThere are blows in life, so powerful… I don't know!Blows as from the hatred of God; as if, facing them,the undertow of everything sufferedwelled up in the soul… I don't know!They are few; but they are… They open dark trenchesin 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 ofbread burning up at the oven door.And man… Poor… poor! He turns his eyes, aswhen a slap on the shoulder summons us;turns his crazed eyes, and everything livedwells up, like a pool of guilt, in his look.There are blows in life, so powerful… I don't know! (11)
Logically evocative, irrationally beautiful. Most of Vallejo's poems deal with universal themes such as love, death, fate, absurdity, his land and customs; often taking refuge in religion, which is generally used to portray human existence amid an ocean of uncertainties; the ebb and flow of meanings and indifference. The chimeric balance between our choices and predestination. The sense of a futile quest. A tiresome undertaking fueled by our adamant nature. An unavoidable instinct. A boulder rolling up and down, unceasingly.
EspergesiaYo nací un díaque Dios estuvo enfermo....Hay un vacíoen mi aire metafísicoque nadie ha de palpar:el claustro de un silencioque habló a flor de fuego...*I was born on a daywhen God was sick....There is an empty placein my metaphysical shapethat no one can reach:a cloister of silencethat spoke with the fire of its voice muffled... (81)
As I mentioned before, excessive amounts of religious references/praises don't keep me interested for a long time. That is the reason some poems captivated me while others were somewhat tedious to me. Nevertheless, the following poem demonstrates this writer's brilliance.
Los Anillos FatigadosHay ganas de volver, de amar, de no ausentarse,y hay ganas de morir, combatido por dosaguas encontradas que jamás han de istmarse.Hay ganas: de un gran beso que amortaje a la Vida,que acaba en el áfrica de una agonía ardiente,suicida!Hay ganas de... no tener ganas. Señor;a ti yo te señalo. con el dedo deicida:hay ganas de no haber tenido corazón.La primavera vuelve, vuelve y se irá. Y Dios,curvado en tiempo, se repite, y pasa: pasa:a cuestas con la espina dorsal del Universo.Cuando, las sienes tocan su lúgubre tambor...cuando me duele el sueño grabado en un puñal,hay ganas de quedarse plantado en este verso!*Weary ringsThere are desires to return, to love, to not disappear,and there are desires to die, fought by twoopposing waters that have never isthmused.There are desires for a great kiss that would shroud Life,one that ends in the Africa of a fiery agony,a suicide!There are desires to... have no desires, Lord;I point my deicidal finger at you:there are desires to not have had a heart.Spring returns, returns and will depart. And God,bent in time, repeats himself, and passes, passeswith the spinal column of the Universe on his back.When my temples beat their lugubrious drum,when the dream engraved on a dagger aches me,there are desires to be left standing in this verse! (69)
Poetry, Vallejo's defense. A reproach, a devotional song, a wistful contemplation.
Melancholy, stop drying up my life."Ostrich" (21)