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The poems of octavio paz, p.1
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       The Poems of Octavio Paz, p.1

           Octavio Paz
The Poems of Octavio Paz

  the poems of


  Also by Octavio Paz

  Available from New Directions

  The Collected Poems 1957–1987


  A Draft of Shadows

  Eagle or Sun?

  Early Poems 1935–1955

  Figures & Figurations

  Selected Poems


  A Tale of Two Gardens

  A Tree Within


  Table of Contents

  A Note on the Selection

  A Note on the Ebook Edition

  First Poems [1931–1940] Game






  Your Name

  Tu nombre



  The Root of Man

  Raíz del hombre

  from Beneath Your Bright Shadow

  de Bajo tu clara sombra

  from Ode to Spain

  de Oda a España

  Elegy for a Friend Dead at the Front in Aragón

  Elegía a un compañero muerto en el frente de Aragón



  Poems [1941–1948] The Bird

  El pájaro

  Two Bodies

  Dos cuerpos

  Life Glimpsed

  Vida entrevista

  Epitaph for a Poet

  Epitafio para un poeta

  Sea in the Afternoon

  Mar por la tarde

  While I Write [MR]

  Mientras escribo

  The Street

  La calle

  Lightning at Rest [MR]

  Relámpago en reposo

  Interrupted Elegy

  Elegía interrumpida

  Nocturnal Water

  Agua nocturna

  Beyond Love [MR]

  Más allá del amor



  The Prisoner (D.A.F. de Sade)

  El prisionero (D.A.F. de Sade)

  from ¿Águila o sol? / Eagle or Sun? [1949–1950] from The Poet’s Work

  de Trabajos del poeta

  A Walk at Night

  Paseo nocturno



  Obsidian Butterfly

  Mariposa de obsidiana

  The Fig Tree

  La higuera

  Huastec Lady

  Dama huasteca

  Toward the Poem

  Hacia el poema

  Poems [1948–1957] from Semillas para un himno / Seeds for a Hymn [1950–1954]

  “The day opens its hand”

  “El día abre la mano”



  “A woman who moves like a river”

  “Una mujer de movimientos de río”

  “A day is lost”

  “Un día se pierde”

  Native Stone [MR]

  Piedra nativa

  “Though the snow falls . . .”

  “Aunque la nieve caiga . . .”

  Proverbs [MR]


  Piedras sueltas / Loose Stones [1955]

  Object Lesson

  Lección de cosas

  In Uxmal

  En Uxmal

  Loose Stones

  Piedras sueltas

  from La estación violenta / The Violent Season [1948–1957]

  Hymn Among the Ruins

  Himno entre ruinas

  Masks of Dawn [MR]

  Máscaras del alba



  Is There No Way Out? [DL]

  ¿No hay salida?

  The River [PB]

  El río

  The Broken Waterjar

  El cántaro roto

  Piedra de sol / Sunstone [1957] Sunstone

  Piedra de sol

  from Salamandra / Salamander [1958–1961] Dawn [CT]










  Certainty [CT]






  Walking Through the Light

  Andando por la luz

  Identical Time

  El mismo tiempo

  Cosante [DL]




  Duration [DL]


  To Touch






  The Bridge

  El puente




  A través

  Odd or Even

  Pares y nones

  Last Dawn

  Alba última

  Salamander [DL]


  from Ladera este / East Slope [1962–1968] The Balcony

  El Balcón

  Humayun’s Tomb

  El mausoleo de Humayún

  In the Lodi Gardens

  En los jardines de los Lodi

  The Day in Udaipur

  El día en Udaipur

  The Other

  El otro

  Epitaph for an Old Woman

  Epitafio de una vieja

  Happiness in Herat

  Felicidad en Herat

  The Effects of Baptism

  Efectos del bautismo





  Himachal Pradesh (1)

  Himachal Pradesh (1)


  Madrugada al raso

  Interruptions from the West (3)

  Intermitencias del oeste (3)


  Un anochecer


  La exclamación

  Reading John Cage

  Lectura de John Cage

  Concert in the Garden
  Concierto en el jardín

  Distant Neighbor

  Prójimo lejano





  Wind from All Compass Points [PB]

  Viento entero



  With Eyes Closed

  Con los ojos cerrados









  Sunday on the Island of Elephanta

  Domingo en la isla de Elefanta

  A Tale of Two Gardens

  Cuento de dos jardines

  Blanco [1966]

  from Vuelta / Return [1969–1975] The Daily Fire

  El fuego de cada día

  The Grove [EB]

  La arboleda

  Immemorial Landscape

  Paisaje inmemorial

  Trowbridge Street

  Trowbridge Street

  Objects and Apparitions [EB]

  Objetos y apariciones



  In the Middle of This Phrase . . .

  A la mitad de esta frase . . .

  The Petrifying Petrified

  Petrificada petrificante

  San Ildefonso Nocturne

  Nocturno de San Ildefonso

  Pasado en claro / A Draft of Shadows [1974] A Draft of Shadows

  Pasado en claro

  from Árbol adentro / A Tree Within [1976–1988] To Speak: To Act

  Decir: hacer



  from On the Wing (1)

  de Al vuelo (1)

  Wind, Water, Stone

  Viento, agua, piedra

  Between Going and Staying

  Entre irse y quedarse

  This Side

  Este lado



  I Speak of the City

  Hablo de la ciudad

  To Talk


  A Waking

  Un despertar

  The Face and the Wind

  La cara y el viento

  A Fable of Joan Miró

  Fábula de Joan Miró

  Sight and Touch

  La vista, el tacto

  A Wind Called Bob Rauschenberg

  Un viento llamado Bob Rauschenberg

  The Four Poplars

  Cuatro chopos

  A Tree Within

  Árbol adentro

  Before the Beginning

  Antes del comienzo



  As One Listens to the Rain

  Como quien oye llover

  Letter of Testimony

  Carta de creencia

  Poems [1989–1996] Stanzas for an Imaginary Garden

  Estrofas para un jardín imaginario

  The Green News

  Verde noticia







  The Same

  Lo mismo

  Target Practice

  Ejercicio de tiro

  Response and Reconciliation

  Respuesta y reconciliación

  Biographical Note

  Notes to the Poems




  A Note on the Selection

  Octavio Paz devoted much of his last years to organizing and revising his complete works, in collaboration with the Spanish editor Nicanor Vélez. The result was fifteen oversize volumes of 400–700 pages each, many of them with lengthy new prefaces by Paz himself. The two volumes of Obra poetica fill some 1500 pages. Along with the poems and prose poems, it includes collaborative works (most notably the quadrilingual Renga and the bilingual Hijos del aire / Airborn, written with Charles Tomlinson); a verse play based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Rapaccini’s Daughter; the uncategorizable “unraveling novel” The Monkey Grammarian; and 400 pages of translations: volumes of William Carlos Williams, Pessoa, and Bashō; selections of classical Chinese, Japanese, and Sanskrit poetry; and many miscellaneous poems from European languages.

  The present selection is the first in English to survey Paz’s entire career, from his first published poem at age seventeen to his last—remarkably, one of his finest—in 1996, at age eighty-two. It is limited to original poems and prose poems written by Paz alone. English-language readers curious about some of the work not included here will find more in various books published by New Directions: Early Poems, edited by Muriel Rukeyser; the complete Eagle or Sun?; Collected Poems: 1957–1987; and A Tale of Two Gardens, poems from India, which includes some of the Sanskrit versions. Renga and The Monkey Grammarian (translated by Helen Lane) have been published elsewhere. Also omitted here are the late poems of Figures & Figurations, which accompany collages by Marie-José Paz: the poems are inextricable from the artworks and a beautiful edition has been published, once again, by New Directions.

  Paz more or less divided his work into two periods, the first culminating with the publication of his long poem “Sunstone” in 1957. The early work was organized and reorganized in various editions under the general title Libertad bajo palabra (which translates badly as Freedom on Parole—“parole” in English not immediately associated with “word” or, more exactly, “one’s own word”). The poems were frequently revised and were arranged more thematically than chronologically; many poems from the earlier books were omitted in later editions.

  For the present selection, I have organized the early poems in a rough chronological order to show Paz’s development. (In the absence of textual scholarship and bibliographic information about periodical appearances, it is currently impossible to date the poems precisely.) A few of the omitted poems are included, but all follow what we might call Paz’s “final final” revisions for the Complete Works edition. After “Sunstone”—even that, perhaps his best-known poem, now has some new lines in it—the selections follow Paz’s book publications until the final set of his last poems, which were never published separately as a book.

  Paz extensively annotated some of his poems, particularly those written in India. Factual identifications have become less necessary in the age of internet searches, and for the “Notes” section, I have given much of the space over to Paz’s own comments on his poems, taken from the innumerable interviews he gave and various essays.

  Paz was extremely fortunate to have some of the best Anglo-American poets as his English translators. Beginning with Muriel Rukeyser, who was the first, energetic promoter of his work, these included Paul Blackburn, Denise Levertov, Elizabeth Bishop, and Charles Tomlinson. Their translations are marked with their initials on the contents page and at the end of the translated poem. These translators were, of course, working from the then-current Spanish version. In some cases, the original has been revised too much for the earlier translation to be included here. In a few cases, in
order to retain the original translation, I have added a few lines or changed a few words to conform to Paz’s revisions. These are signaled in the notes. Earlier or alternate translations of some of the poems by these and other translators (including William Carlos Williams and others) may be found in the New Directions editions of Early Poems, Configurations, A Draft of Shadows, and Selected Poems. I’ve also taken this opportunity to revise my own translations, most of them more than twenty-five years old. Poems may be finished, but a translation never is.

  The first translations of Paz’s poems in any language appeared in a New Directions annual in 1947, when he was thirty-three. Although already well-known in Mexico, it was, he often said, the first sign that anyone “out there” was interested. Paz was close to the late James Laughlin and paid tribute to him, an avid skier, with an unforseeable essay on the relationship between poetry and skiing. My own active collaboration with Paz began in the late 1960s. From 1974 on, we were extraordinarily lucky to have Peter Glassgold, now retired, as our editor for some thirty years. New Directions’ sixty-five-year commitment to Paz’s work continues with this book, thanks to Barbara Epler and Jeffrey Yang.

  During the making of this book, the poet and editor Nicanor Vélez died at age fifty-two. He was responsible not only for the massive Complete Works of Paz, but also for equally definitive editions of García Lorca, Pablo Neruda, and Rubén Darío, among others (and some fifty books of international poetry). Such meticulous editions are extremely rare in the Spanish-speaking world: Nicanor had no equal.

  Thanks to Galaxia Gutenberg / Círculo de Lectores for providing the Spanish texts that Paz and Vélez prepared; to Vicente Rojo, Paz’s old friend and collaborator, for providing the Tantric Sunstone-volcano on the cover; and to Marcelo Uribe for facilitating our use of the artwork. Thanks, above all, to Marie-José Paz.

  Eliot Weinberger

  A Note on the Ebook Edition

  This electronic edition differs in a number of ways from the print book. Most importantly, the order of the poems has been altered. As tablets and phones do not have enough screen space to accommodate facing pages, the Spanish originals have been placed at the end of each section. To navigate quickly between languages, tap or click on the title of the poem. In some Kindle devices, this will trigger a pop-up footnote: if this happens, tap “go to footnote.” If you would like to skip ahead to the next section, tap on the linked asterisks that follow the last English-language poem (* * * *). Finally, the alphabetical index has been omitted; the text-search function available on most reading systems performs the same task.

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