Absurdity, only you are pure. Absurdity, only before you is this excess sweated out of golden pleasure.César Vallego
Paris, October 1936
by César Vallejo
From all of this I am the only one who leaves.
From this bench I go away, from my pants,
from my great situation, from my actions,
from my number split side to side,
from all of this I am the only one who leaves.
From the Champs Elysées or as the strange
alley of the Moon makes a turn,
my death goes away, my cradle leaves,
and, surrounded by people, alone, cut loose,
my human resemblance turns around
and dispatches its shadows one by one.
And I move away from everything, since everything
remains to create my alibi:
my shoe, its eyelet, as well as its mud
and even the bend in the elbow
of my own buttoned shirt.
Cesar Vallejo was quoted as saying; “I was born on a day God was sick.” A Peruvian poet, novelist, journalist and activist, who struggled throughout his lifetime. Accused of a crime he didn’t commit in his native homeland, an accusation that was politically motivated because of his socialist politics and writings, he fled to Europe and spent most of his adult life in Spain and France. Vallejo’s legal troubles in Peru haunted him in his attempts to achieve legal citizenship in both Spain and France and his increasingly communist leanings in his writing made that even more complicated. Vallejo toiled in dire poverty throughout the 1920s and early 1930’s, but managed to make multiple trips to the Soviet Union which he documented in several books published in the early 1930s. A regular cultural contributor to weeklies in Peru, Vallejo also sent articles to newspapers and magazines in other parts of Latin America, Spain, Italy, and France, but his writing provided a scant income. In 1930 the Spanish government awarded him a modest author’s grant which helped ease his financial situation. Vallejo returned to Paris in 1934 and married Georgette Philippart, who became a controversial figure after his death by controlling and limiting the publication of Vallejo’s lifelong work.
Vallejo was plagued by ill health throughout his life time. In 1938 he became bed ridden by what turned out to be a return of a latent form of Malaria which he had gotten in childhood. He became extremely ill and died in Paris 1938 at age 46. Vallejo’s poetry gained recognition after his death as one of the first modernist poet’s in Latin America. Death was a common theme in his poetry. I wonder if it rained on the day of his death as he predicted?
Black Stone Lying On A White Stone
by César Vallejo
I will die in Paris, on a rainy day,
on some day I can already remember.
I will die in Paris—and I don’t step aside—
perhaps on a Thursday, as today is Thursday, in autumn.
It will be a Thursday, because today, Thursday, setting down
these lines, I have put my upper arm bones on
wrong, and never so much as today have I found myself
with all the road ahead of me, alone.
César Vallejo is dead. Everyone beat him
although he never does anything to them;
they beat him hard with a stick and hard also
with a rope. These are the witnesses:
the Thursdays, and the bones of my arms,
the solitude, and the rain, and the roads. .