defeat

I who never had a trade
who have felt weak in the face of all competition,
who lost the best claims to life
who scarcely arrive at a place before I want to leave (in the belief
that moving on is a solution)
who have been prematurely disowned and helped in a humiliating way
and ridiculed by abler people

I who cling to walls so that I do not fall completely
who am an object of laughter for myself
who believed that my father was eternal
who have been humiliated by teachers of literature
who was answered with a guffaw
when once I asked how I could help
I who shall never build a home, nor sparkle
nor be a winner in life
who have been abandoned by many people
because I hardly ever speak
who feel shame for acts I have not committed
who have been close to starting to run down the street
who have lost a center I never had
who have become the general laughing-stock
because I live in limbo
who shall find no one to put up with me

who was ignored so that attention should be paid to those
more abject than myself
who shall carry on my whole life like this and who next year
will be mocked many more times for my ridiculous ambitions
who am tired of taking advice from others more lethargic than myself
(,,you’re half asleep, get moving, wake up”)
who shall never be able to travel to India
who have accepted favors and given nothing in return
who wander from one side of the city to the other like a feather
who let myself be carried along by the others

who have no personality nor want one
who stifle my rebelliousness all day long
who have not joined the guerrillas
who have done nothing for my people
who do not belong to the *F A L N and who despair over all these things
and others that would make an endless list
who cannot get out of my prison
who have been turned down everywhere because I am of no use
who to tell the truth have not been able to get married
nor go to Paris nor spend a peaceful day
who refuse to recognize facts
who always dribble over my story

who since birth have been an imbecile and an imbecile twice over
who lost the thread of the speech that was being delivered within me
and have not found it
who do not cry when I want to cry,
who am late for everything

who have been ruined by so many advances and retreats
who yearn for perfect immobility and impeccable promptness
who am neither what I am nor what I am not
who in spite of everything have a satanic pride even though
at certain moments my humility has made me feel no taller than the stones
who have lived for fifteen years within the same circle
I who believed myself predestined for something unusual
and have achieved nothing
who shall never wear a tie
who cannot find my body

who have seen my duplicity in lightning flashes
and have not been able to throw myself to the ground, to sweep everything away
and to create a new freshness out of my indolence, my drifting, my eccentricity,
and obstinately [continue] to commit suicide with whatever my hand touches.
I shall get up from the ground more ridiculous than ever
and go on mocking myself and others until the day of the last
judgement.

Rafael Cadenas

*F A L N: (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional) Armed Forces of National Liberation,
military arm of the National Liberation Front of Venezuela.

what was life

What was life
what
what rotten apple
what leftover
what waste.

If it was a rose
if it was
a golden cloud
and should have flowered
light
in the air.

If it was a rose
if it was a gay flame
if it was anything
weightless
that causes
no pain
that is content to be
anything, anything
that is easy
easy.

It could not have been made up of corridors
of sordid dawns
of revulsion
of unlit tasks
of routines, of credits
it could not have been
it could not.

Not that
what it was
what it is
the dirty air
of the street
the winter
the many errors
the miseries
exhaustion

in a deserted world

Idea Vilariño

the two slopes of time

The hair of that mountain
glistens with centuries,
frozen.

On this side of it,
and on the other,
it is the same; two slopes
of green mirrors.

I do not hurry;
I love to contemplate further from a peak of time
two slopes of mirrors.
When I want to, I say;
One is my body;
the other is my thought.

And it occurs to me to think:
one is the chain of habit,
the shadow of yesterday.
The other is freedom!

There I go!
My soul will go before the stars
that it has vaguely seen,
for it does not wear chains like them.
And eternity must lie in the future for me
and that is all,
because that is what thought believes,
in infancy,
and infancy is the only time when we are
truly prophets.

But the hair of time
glistens with centuries,
frozen.

Emilio Oribe

the horse

He comes through the streets
under the full moon,
a horse killed
in an ancient battle.

His dull hooves. . .
he trembles, he slips,
gives a gloomy neigh
with his distant voice.

At the leaden corner
of the barricade
he stops with empty eyes
and horror.

Later one
can hear his slow tread,
through deserted streets
and through ruined squares.

José María Eguren

the circle

We all leave; but everything remains.
We do not return again to our port.
Those who have died have gone for ever.
The flower that falls decomposes into mud.

Eventually, in another form, the essence of the flower
finds its garden in that mud.
When we die, we shall go through the air,
with uncertain course, in the arms of the great Everything.

We shall return, but without ourselves.
The immortal substance changes form
and some go so that others may come.

The cosmic avenue is circular,
yet without moving outside its pattern
our lives fuse with Life.

Emilio Frugoni

rondel

Love, happiness and content
are birds of passage that
travel the blue of the firmament in a floating line,
breathe out a lament to the air,
and disperse in swift flight.

What are the thousands upon thousands
of generations that shine and sink at sunset,
that are born and succumb in millions?
Birds of passage.

Oh unhappy souls, it is useless
to bind yourself to the world with roots.
Powerful and mysterious impulses
carry us among shadows, aimlessly;
for we are, alas, but eternal wanderers.
Birds of passage.

Manuel González Prada

complete image

Suddenly I saw myself,
a complete image,
with an expression
rehearsed over the years.
I was a man of crystal
who reflected the world,
holding nothing back.
I saw myself different
from the other images
of me alive
in the mirror:
a [darker] shadow on my head,
a [deeper] abyss at my feet,
a [thicker] wood within me;
the unconsciousness of a plant,
obedient to the breeze,
a reed of solitude,
no longer thinking,
— earthly solitude,
my only company! —
I saw myself in a fleeting reflection,
looking from outside
at the being who lives within,
a masked recluse
in his wandering seclusion.

Jorge Carrera Andrade

a spectre

The man who was returning from the dead
approached me, and my heart stood cold,
trembling and mute…Neither did he speak,
the man who came back from
the dead…

He was as silent as stone… Yet
in his self-absorbed expression
there was the solemn dread of one who has looked
at a great enigma and becomes the bearer
of the message that the whole globe awaits…
The man who did not speak paused at my side.

And his face and mine came together,
and there arose in my heart a violent desire
to ask questions…But, little by little,
the questions froze on my lips…

The evening shook with a loud howl
of a hurricane…And step by step
the man who came back from the dead
disappeared into the half-light of the declining day…

Enrique González Martínez

song to solitude

Sole of solitude and solitary and sole,
like the madman in the center of his madness,
I say what you have said to me
with the drowning voice of the sea in my ears,
made of ashes which sing.

I have heard your step, pastoral and naval,
of gazelle and anemone, falling across the time
of a dream woven by mutilated statues;
the lark dying under the snow,
the moss spelling life on the rock,
the harvest-fields of rain, the blind tunnel
which leads from the seed to the rose,
the beauty of the world, its greatest lamentation.
Conquered, I follow your frozen flame,
your deserted mirrors and your slow metals
which will never submit to the bells,
your footprint of burnt-out remain.

I do not know if you are the flesh or the bone of the fruit
of mystery and madness,
of the proud and awaited agony,
or if we are both dreaming ourselves
in the hurricane and in the sigh,
in the brief immensity of a blemish,
in that which I have wished for,
like water and fire in the blood,
like loves without forgetfulness.

I remember your repose of rain
falling over the sea.
Your anxiety of faithful ivy,
and of a little girl loved again.
I remember your pensive sorrows,
your dolorous joy, and your recumbent ecstasy
in my heart and in the morning stars.
Your pattern of cloud, unique and slow,
over a sky of sores; of useless weeping over pure death,
and a desolate hand in the immensity
of a body which yields itself.
You are not, I know, outside me, in the wind,
or in the farewell, the tomb or the defeat,
or in the snow which sometimes prolongs
the shadow of forgetfulness and the echo of nevermore.

Nor, when love was gone,
when a greater love had consumed me,
was she more part of me, her flesh and dream,
and her waking anxiety, and her blue,
sleepless grasp even became kissable.
And when suddenly all is sad,
because love comes complete,
as sad as if you had died,
ah! how close to me, [how] remote,
my dream in the homeland of dreams.

Already shadow less, with love, and without body,
in the clear fabric of silence,
which everything kisses into an enigma,
I remember myself after death.

The space where I taste and suffer
is a cascade of mourning of consoled stone
and a stain of damp on the wall.
And already I do not conceive of myself without being solitude itself
in the one time and place inside me.
Stony votive delirium of passion
where desire exists, unique and alone,
and love is terrible and eternal, and boundless.

You are the dull prolonged shout of the stone
against the living blood,
hurting its mystery of health and poppies.
Oh poesy! solitude and life,
first and eternal Eve,
who chops off
the hands of poor lovers?

I know my agonizing solitude,
sister of the dry myrtle and sleeping cupolas.
I know you are born like fire,
rubbing together two mysteries,
my dream and my skeleton.

Blood, tenaciously shed,
hears your ancient word,
seeking, solitude, your way.
When I die, if I ever know it,
I will be more in you, I will be your wheat,
your pulse and your inconsolable truth.
Oh poesy! solitude and death,
eternal and first Eve,
the sea is crying.

Solitude is not being alone with death
and being loved by her in life.
It is something sadder, dazzling and high;
it is to be alone with life.

Dying of thirst amid the seas,
your forms in my voice and other stars.
Solitude is in hope,
in triumph, in laughter and in the dance.

Luis Cardoza y Aragón

defence of Sunday

Island of solitudes and bells,
the days dash us against your cliffs,
your peak of rest and candour,
your immensity cut through by the hours and the birds.

Your mass of new light emerges out of time,
and little by little you share out your weekly gold,
reviving gardens
and making us rich in celestial allotments.

Our tired feet touch your last step as if it were a bed,
or coveted foam, or an agitated cupola
where birds of wine celebrate
the hands’ sweet holiday.

We reach your coasts each week
as shipwrecked men,
to fill ourselves with lights and to seek out the palm tree of repose
or the plans for the treasure hidden in the clouds.

Jorge Carrera Andrade