Obra poética completa. Edited by Américo Ferrari. Lima: Mancloa, Obras completas. Vol. Novelas: Tungsteno, Fabla salvaje, Escalas melografías. de la Penitenciaria, Fabla salvaje, Lima: Colegio La Novela Peruana, ; and edition, Obra poetica completa, edited by Georgette Vallejo. Correspondencia completa. Edited by Jesús Cabel. del Perú, Novelas: Tungsteno, Fabla salvaje, Escalas Obras completas. Vol. 1, Obra poética.

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Published on Oct View Download 5. The fab,a gratefully acknowledges the generous contribution to this book provided by theAhmanson Foundation Humanities Endowment Fund of the University of California Press Foundation. The publisher also gratefully acknowledges the generous contribution toward the publication of thisbook provided by the Director’s Circle of the University of California Orba Foundation, whosemembers are: Asterisks that appear in the right margin of the translationindicate a word or phrase discussed in the Notes to the Poems.

There are poets whose work can be explained, and there are inexplicable poets, like Cesar Vallejo.

csar vallejo – complete poetry

Butbeing unable to explain does not mean being unable to understand, or that his poems ibra, totally hermetic. It means that, contrary to our reading of explicable poets, evenafter we have studied everything about his poems that rational knowledge has to offer-his sources, histechniques, ckmpleta unique vocabulary, his subjects, his influences, the historical circumstancessurrounding the creation of his poems-we remain in the dark, unable to penetrate that mysteriousaureole that we feel to be the secret of this poetry’s originality and power.

Whether or not a poet is rationally explicable implies nothing about the depth or the excellence of hispoetry. Neruda is a great and original poet, and his poetry, even the most obscure, that of Residenciaen la tierra, obrx accessible through logical analysis by perceptive critics who know how to follow thetext down to its roots, to its deepest core.

With Vallejo the opposite happens. Even the poems of hisyouththose of The Black Heralds, strongly marked by modernism and the avant-garde schools thatcame after it-have, within their seeming transparency, a nucleus irreducible to pure reason, a secretheart that eludes every effort the rational mind makes to hear it beat.

Vallejo’s poetry, for all its references to familiar landscapes and a social and historical milieu,transcends those coordinates of time and space and positions the reader on a more permanent andprofound plane: Which is to say, the existential reality of which the livesof men and women are made: But the mystery in his poetryresides not in those existential subjects or states but, rather, in how they take shape in a language thatcommunicates them to the reader directly, more through a sort of osmosis or contagion than throughany intelligible discourse.

Vallejo’s is a poetry that makes us feel the very fibers of existence, that strips us of all that isincidental and transitory, and confronts us with the essence we have within us: Clayton Eshleman discovered Vallejo inwhile still in college and not yet fluent in Spanish. Ashe himself recounts, he has spent a good part of his life reading, studying, and trying to render vompleta in English.

He was never satisified with the results; again and again he revised and polished hisversions to ffabla an elusive perfection. There is a sort of heroism in his undertaking, like that ofthose creators in pursuit of a work as beautiful as it is impossible. His case reveals an admirablefidelity to a poet who no doubt changed his life. His tireless loyalty and determination have madepossible this edition of the complete poetry of Vallejo in English, perhaps the one that comes closestto the texts of the poet’s own hand.

Only the dauntless perseverance and the love with which thetranslator has dedicated so many years of his life to this task can explain why the English versionconveys, in all its boldness and vigor, the unmistakable voice of Cesar Vallejo. All these people worked through at least one version of one of Vallejo’sindividual books with me.

My gratitude as well goes toEastern Michigan University for two research fellowships and and to the WheatlandFoundation and the National Translation Center for grants. In one paragraph I tried to get at what often appeared to be an impossible task: A marvelous complex of emotions is stirred when I think back to our work together. We were like twobeavers, both working at different angles into the Vallejo tree, hoping it would fall at the angle each ofus was setting it up to fall, but unsure if it would fall at all.

Does this line really mean anything? Itreads like nonsense but doesn’t feel like nonsense. Have we obrz not found its uncommon sense?

There was always the risk of making sense of what complefa actually poised on the edge of sense andnonsense.

Jose and I worked together, always at his home in Westwood, several times a week, for around fiveyears. During this period I came to terms with Vallejo and gained the ground necessary for goingahead, on my own, to translate Trilce and Los heraldos negros. Jose’s honesty, intelligence, andstubborn scrupulousness coincided beautifully with the texts we were working on. Whatever I haveultimately managed to accomplish in this book I owe to having worked with him.


Versions of my Vallejo translations and co-translations, almost always in nonfinal form, appearedbetween i96o and in the following magazines: Two of the translations appeared as Ta-wil and Bellevue Pressbroadsides. Several translations appeared as a Backwoods Broadside.

My translations of individual Vallejo collections have also appeared in different versions: Both these collections, retranslated withBarcia, appeared in as Cesar Vallejo: Forty-three poems from The Complete Posthumous Poetry appeared, again indiffering translations, in my Conductors of the Pit: Marsilio published my translation of Trilce inandWesleyan University Press brought out a new, slightly revised edition of Trilce inwith anintroduction by Americo Ferrari.

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Translations of four Vallejo prose poems were included in a revisedand expanded version of Conductors of the Pit, published by Soft Skull Press in In the sameyear, Letters Bookshop in Toronto brought out Telluric k Magnetic, a booklet containing thirteenpoems. The emotional rawness of Cesar Vallejo’s poetry stretched the Spanish language beyond grammar andlexicon into compelling dissonances and asymmetries, unprecedented and unsurpassed in the historyof Hispanic poetry.

Like Paul Celan, Vallejo has presented daunting perplexities to his readers andtranslators: InVallejo, oral expression and the conventions of written language are often in conflict, as are memoryand the passing of time, but his cokpleta can be moving, and his visual configurations are oftenarresting, as are his auditory effects. His ambiguities and slvaje, made up of embers and aurasof meaning, an affront to reductive paraphrase, are charged with pathos, even when pitched as parody.

He is not immune to sentimentalism, or even bathos, but his blemishes are those of an inspired poetwho unsettled and reoriented the local and cosmopolitan literary traditions on which he drew.

Vallejo’s poetry is imbued with feelings of guilt, trepidation, and uncertainty and with intimations thatsatisfying one’s own needs can feel shameful when confronted with the suffering of others.

In TheBlack Heralds i9i8his first book of poems, Vallejo confronts his theological demons, expressing atragic vision in which sexuality and sin are one and the same. With Trilce he still longs forattachment and is nostalgic for family bonds but no longer relies on the rhetoric of religion to addresshis angst, reaching his most persuasive experimental heights.

In his posthumous poetry, the HumanPoems and Spain, Take This Cup from Me, his feelings of collective anguish and compassion areexpressed with a keener historical awareness and a nettled attentiveness to cosmopolitan concerns. While some have branded Vallejo’s most difficult poetry as either densely hermetic or as a challengeto the logos of Western culture, others have argued that his difficulties are a window into theindigenous soul of the Andean peoples.

Jose Maria Arguedas, the most celebrated novelist of theAndes, made this point: Vallejo carried the anguished and tortured sensibility of a great people in his heart and in his spirit. This accounts for the immense depth, the human palpitation of his oeuvre, his undeniable universalvalue.

With Vallejo, Peruvian poetry soars above the lyrical heights of Latin America. Ruben Dariowas probably a greater master of versification, but his voice is always the voice of an individual man;he always speaks of his personal destiny. Vallejo feels the guilt of the pain and destiny of humanity;he speaks and protests in the name of us all.

Cesar Vallejo

Dario was an illegitimate child from a remote Nicaraguan village, Neruda was the son of arailroad operator in the rainy southernmost regions of Chile, sa,vaje Vallejo grew up in Santiago fablw, an isolated hamlet in the northern Andes of Peru ten thousand feet above sea level.

All threeleft the confines of their provincial birthplaces, attracted by larger cities and international hubs ofcultural life; but Vallejo did not receive either the social recognition or the financial rewards of hiscounterparts, and his fame was posthumous.

His literary merits did not go unnoticed in Peru, wherelocal luminaries, including Jose Maria Eguren, Abraham Valdelomar, and Jose Carlos Mariateguirecognized the significance of his poetry, or in Spain, where poets like Gerardo Diego, Juan Larrea,and Jose Bergamin discovered and championed him in the os.

But he lived a life of financialpenury, serious illnesses, and distressing encounters with the law, including imprisonment in Peru anddeportation from France. With Fab,a, Spanishprosody ceases comppleta be normative and becomes descriptive, as poets assume responsibility compltea inventingthe forms and motifs of their works. His Prosas profanas was studied by many SpanishAmerican poets as a virtual manual of formal possibilities; and in Songs of Life and Hope hisformal magic takes on an earnest confessional tone, espousing political and spiritual ideals aiming tounite Latin America, and compleeta the Hispanic world, in the aftermath of the Spanish War of Spanish literature itself entered a rich period of renewal, in which poets such as Juan Ramon Jimenez,Pedro Salinas, Jorge Guillen, and Federico Garcia Lorca acknowledged their debt to developments inSpanish America and worked to establish the fraternal environment of literary relations in whichSpain embraced Neruda and Vallejo.


Pablo Neruda-whose beginnings were as marked by Dario as Vallejo’s-is the most internationallycelebrated Latin American poet, recipient of both the Lenin and the Nobel Obrs during the cold war,and a player in the political developments of his nation.

His remarkable ability to write in a seamless,flowing verse with a distinctive music of earnest pathos, salvame to sing a simple ode to the most elementalobject of everyday life, has been widely acclaimed. Neruda reinvented the language of love in Spanish America with his Twenty Love Poems and a Songof Despairexpressing sensual longing and fulfillment with a directness that had eluded Dario.

In his early masterpiece, the two volumes of Residence on Earth, Neruda observes,sometimes with sadness, the inevitable triumphs of unfeeling nature over human mortality.

csar vallejo – complete poetry

When hebecame a socialist, Neruda was eager to follow Whitman with an invigorated voice confident in apolitical vision. In his later books Neruda meditated, now with calm resignation, on the return ofliving beings to a state of matter. The vastness of his poetic universe was always grounded in thematerial world. Disdainful of abstractions commpleta metaphysical speculations, Neruda could write a poemabout anything his five senses might encounter.

His voice did not question language’s ability to mirrorreality. In contrast, Vallejo’s vision is often vexed: It is instructive to compare the poetry of Vallejo and Neruda written as the Spanish Civil War wasunfolding. Neruda expresses pain and outrage but also certainty about the ultimate outcome. Afterdescribing the fires of fascist bombings, the death of his friend Lorca, complea the blood of Spain flowingthrough the streets of Madrid, he strikes a defiant stance: In “Heights of MachuPicchu,” the epiphanous tour de force of his Canto general, Neruda vows to become the voice of thedisenfranchised.

Neruda’s poetic persona moves from a valley to reach the summit of Machu Picchu,where his metaphors pile one on another, like the stones of the Incan ruins. The poem’s steadycrescendo culminates as the poet becomes one with the common man: Chocano’s star has long since fallen, but in Vallejo’s lifetime he was the mostcelebrated Peruvian poet, best known for his invocations of condors and fablq images of the Andeanenvironment in his self-appointed role as spokesman of the Peruvian nation.

Vallejo is derisive ofChocano, and more guarded than Neruda in his attitude toward the indigenous world. He does notattempt to become the voice of the Sierra as the Andean region is called in Peru. His yearnings aremore challenging: Vallejo’s commpleta world of imagery is less expansive than Neruda’s but more inventive andunpredictable, denser and more emotionally intense.

Neruda draws on the natural world for metaphorsthat can inspire political rallies; Vallejo’s metaphors evince a sometimes perplexing tension betweenthe natural, political, linguistic, and spiritual realms. His struggles with language are at times astirring articulation of his anger and subversion, and he often communicates the frustration thatlinguistic expression may be too ephemeral to withstand human comlleta He singles out two Peruvians, Fabka Augusto Salaverry and Jose Arnaldo Marquez, for special praise “every time I read them I am deeply moved” ;’ traces of their concerns emerge in the sentimentalmoments of Vallejo’s early poetry.

His encounter with Spanish Golden Age poetry, however, was morefruitful. His friend Antenor Orrego remembered a notebook in which Vallejo had rehearsed variationson Spanish classics, including imitations of Quevedo and Lope de Vega, and indicated that echoes ofthese exercises reverberate through The Black Heralds and Trilce.

Armisendemonstrated that “Intensity and Height,” which begins “I want to write, but out comes foam,” is notjust a variation on a sonnet by Lope that begins “I want to write, but my tears won’t let me” but is oobra “deconstruction of poetic and religious language,” including that of St. John of the Cross. Vallejo’s early poetry draws directly on Dario’s symbolist aesthetic, nuanced by inflections ofPeruvian poets of his time: Favla Valdelomar’s modernismo, salvame of Catholicism; Jose MariaEguren’s dreamy symbolism, comlleta nods to aslvaje Germanic lyrical tradition; and the anticlerical anarchistvirility of Manuel Gonzalez Prada.

In Peru Baudelaire, discovered in the 18gos, became a contemporary of Dario. The often-debated Gallicisms in Vallejo’spoetry, such as the adjective pluvioso for rainy, instead of the everyday Spanish llu- vioso in TrilceXV, also appear in Marquina’s translation of Baudelaire.