Read Obra Poetica by César Vallejo Free Online
Book Title: Obra Poetica|
The author of the book: César Vallejo
Edition: Fondo de Cultura Economica USA
Date of issue: January 1st 1995
ISBN 13: 9788489666030
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 8.88 MB
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Reader ratings: 6.5
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My initial quest was to bring a literary souvenir from Perú and it seems I found out what would become a dear poet to me, a poet who will now remain close to my heart for times to come. Chance and fate have been playing unpredicted roles in my life lately.
Peruvian expatriate César Vallejo was born in Santiago de Chuco, a small village in the northern Andes mountains in 1892. His life was forged in despair and alienation while he studied literature, law and medicine in Lima, where he was struck with the harshness of city life when comparing it with the uneventful rural life of his childhood. Introduced to the ideas of Darwin, Marx and Rationalist philosophers, Vallejo felt that the Catholic faith in which he had been raised was no longer feasible and he became actively interested in his pre-Columbian heritage while becoming increasingly anguished to learn of the suffering of aboriginals in his country, particularly during the Spanish Colonization. And in that sense, Vallejo arose, not only as a poet, but also as a man who embodied his political views and his social engagement through his verses, mourning for what was lost and bewildered by the senselessness of the brutality of life.
But protest poems were not his only achievements. Vallejo’s poetry managed to highlight the melodic quality of language, using erotic lyrics for descriptions of human landscape, breaking conventions in inventing new words when existent ones failed to convey the passion of a lover, the irrecoverable feeling of innocence so characteristic of childhood or the proud respect towards a forthcoming and certain death.
Located between post-modernism and avant-gardism, Vallejo develops his writing style, ignoring the modernist constrains since his work neglects the measured verse and its rhyme and obviates grammar rules and the semantic use of words while finding new ways of aesthetic expression. His uncanonically use of free verse achieves a superior form of portraying his humanity and his most intimate thread of thinking.
This is most evident in his first collection of poems called “Los Heraldos Negros” (The Black Messengers) , where estrangement and a constant feeling of social injustice become recurrent subjects along with a sensuous yearning that usually takes form of a woman’s body.
“Mi carne nada, nada
en la copa de sombra que me hace aún doler;
mi carne nada en ella
como en un pantanoso corazón de mujer.” (*)
(“My flesh nothing, nothing
in the glass made of shade that makes me hurt still;
my flesh swims in her
like in a swampy heart of woman.”)
(*) Note the play on words used in Spanish as the verb ”nada” (swim) is spelled in the same way than the noun ” nada” (nothing) , creating a double meaning in the verse. Is he swimming, lost in reverie in a passionate embrace or feeling debased and alienated in doing so?
His next collection of poems,”Trilce”, is much more of a challenge for the reader as it appears completely devoid of ornamental language; leaving articles, conjunctions and even particles of words dangling at the end of a line. His verses usually manage to break the rhythm by employing awkward alliterations and they explore multiple meanings in playing with spelling while creating new words when he thinks it convenient.
“ Pasa una paralela a
ingrata línea quebrada de felicidad
me extraña cada firmeza, junto a esa agua
que se aleja, que ríe acero, caña.
Hilo retemplado, hilo, hilo binómico
¿por dónde romperás, nudo de guerra?
Acoraza este ecuador, Luna.”
(“Draw a parallel to
ungrateful cracked line of happiness.
I wonder at each firmness, along with that water
it moves away, laughing steel, cane.
Retempering thread, thread, binomial thread
where will you be breaking in, knot of war?
Protect this Ecuador, Moon.”)
In attributing qualities not normally associated with words, like a laughing river flow, which could represent the mockery of the inexorable passage of time, filtering through life and shattering all chances of happiness, Vallejo tampers with clichés to give them new meaning, creating more aggressive than beautiful poems where a raw and complex language serves the purpose of illustrating the human struggle against all kind of physical and spiritual limitations.
Although I was impressed by Vallejo’s juggling use of words and syntax in ”Trilce”, his voice spoke most distinctly to me, hitting close to home, in his last volume, “Poemas Humanos” (Human Poems) . Vallejo wrote this collection during his exile in Europe, mainly in Paris, as an expatriate political activist while openly fighting Franco’s fascist forces and writing in defense of the Republic during the Spanish Civil War. This volume was published posthumously by his wife.
Vallejo’s most passionate and tragic voice can be heard in the fatally wounded verses of his more mature years, where a haunting quest for the true meaning of life becomes futile in the poet’s eyes when faced with the impossibility of humanity to grasp it. His poems ooze with the frustration inherent in the human condition and with his heart-breaking perplexity of finally succumbing to a ruthless and chaotic world.
Having abandoned all religious faith, Vallejo searched for answers in his surrealist writing, relentlessly questioning himself, squeezing words to their limit while mourning for the loss of moral innocence. He sensed his end was near. All these sentiments reach their peak in one of his most famous poems ”Piedra Negra sobre Piedra Blanca” (“Black Stone on White Stone”) :
”Me moriré en París con aguacero,
un día del cual tengo ya el recuerdo.
Me moriré en París ? y no me corro?
tal vez un jueves, como es hoy, de otoño.
Jueves será, porque hoy, jueves, que proso
estos versos, los húmeros me he puesto
a la mala y, jamás como hoy, me he vuelto,
con todo mi camino, a verme solo.
César Vallejo ha muerto, le pegaban
todos sin que él les haga nada;
le daban duro con un palo y duro
también con una soga; son testigos
los días jueves y los huesos húmeros,
la soledad, la lluvia, los caminos...”
( “I will die in Paris with a rainstorm,
on a day I already remember,
I will die in Paris—and I don't shy away—
perhaps on a Thursday, as today is, in autumn.
It will be Thursday, because today, Thursday, as I prose
these lines, I've put on my humeri in a bad mood,
and, today like never before, I've turned back,
with all of my road, to see myself alone.
César Vallejo has died; they kept hitting him,
everyone, even though he does nothing to them,
they gave it to him hard with a club and hard
also with a rope; witnesses are
the Thursday days and the humerus bones,
the solitude, the rain, the roads. . .” )
I have discovered in Cesar Vallejo a new poetic reference; his verses emerge as twin souls to Picasso or Salvador Dalí’s disruptive paintings in setting up both an innovative and wrenching poetic language for Spanish that radically altered the shape of its imagery and the nature of its rhythms. As Vallejo himself says in his poetry, he was born into a life full of pain, despair and anguish, but he managed to alleviate its burden with his visceral passion for the written word, opening the way for future poets by leaving a brighter, cleaner and much more polished, maybe even angular, language to them. Ready to be used and re-used, but never to be either wasted or forgotten.
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Read information about the authorCésar Abraham Vallejo Mendoza was a Peruvian poet. Although he published only three books of poetry during his lifetime, he is considered one of the great poetic innovators of the 20th century. Always a step ahead of the literary currents, each of his books was distinct from the others and, in it's own sense, revolutionary. Clayton Eshleman and José Rubia Barcia's translation of "The Complete Posthumous Poetry of César Vallejo" won the National Book Award for translation in 1979.
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