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Often I have seen things that others have also seen. This inspires me with a subtle, tiptoeing anger, into whose intimate presence blood flows from my solidary flanks.
—The sun has broken through,—I say to a man.
And he’s responded to me:
—Yes. A sweet, fallow sun.
I had felt that the sun truly is sweet and fallow. So I want to ask another man what he knows about this sun. He confirmed my impression and this confirmation hurts me, a vague hurt that digs in under my ribs. Is it not, then, certain that I was facing the sun as it broke through? And, this being the case, that man had emerged as from a side mirror, without risking anything, to murmur at my side: “Yes, a sweet, fallow sun.” An adjective stands out on each side of my temples. No. I will ask another man about this sun. The first one had lied or joked, as if to supplant me.
—The sun has broken through,—I say to another man.
—Yes, very overcast,—he responds.
Even further away, I’ve said to another:
—The sun has broken through.
And this one argues:
—An incomplete sun.
Where can I go where there will be no side mirror, whose surface faces me head-on, no matter how much I advance sideways and look straight ahead!
Beautiful absurdities appear alongside a man and disappear, an urgent agile steed, requiring a halter, number, and rider. But men love to bridle for love of the rider and not for love of the animal. And no one will feel what I feel. And no one will have the power now to supplant me.
César Vallejo was born in Peru in 1892. His books include The Black Heralds, Trilce, the poshumous Human Poems, and the novel Tugsteno. Active in Marxist politics and the antifascist campaign in Spain, he died in poverty in Paris in 1938. His poems in this issue have never before been translated into English.
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in your carpeted office you lay my life down / and say open up to that small room in my sternum.
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