Wednesday, January 01, 2014

How much 14 there has been in existence

César Vallejo cuts a sad and driven figure. He was a Peruvian who lived the last quarter of his life in Europe, mostly poor and in bad straits. His poetry was dark and surreal, original and haunted. His most famous poem is probably Black Stone Lying on a White Stone, a fabulous poem.

With 2014 coming over the past few days I’ve been thinking of Vallejo’s poem “Anniversary.” Like so much of his poetry, “Anniversary” mesmerizes. It comes to me often when I encounter the number 14. I don’t know what 14th anniversary he is immortalizing, but for all its mystery, “Anniversary” seems one of his more affirmative poems, to the detriment of 15! 

I give you below the first stanza. Google “César Vallejo anniversary 14” and Google Books will gift you the whole thing. I will tuck Vallejo in my pocket and keep him with me this year.


How much 14 there has been in existence!
What credits with mist on a corner!
What a synthetic diamond the skull is!
The lengthier 
the sweetness, the deeper the surface,
how much 14 there has been in such a small 1!

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