Cesar Vallejo


Griffin Poetry Prize 2008
International Shortlist

Book: The Complete Poetry: A Bilingual Edition

Translator: Clayton Eshleman

Poet: César Vallejo

Publisher: University of California Press

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

Guillermo Verdecchia reads Guitar, by Clayton Eshleman translated from Cesar Vallejo

Guitar, by Clayton Eshleman translated from Cesar Vallejo


The pleasure of suffering, of hating, dyes
my throat with plastic venoms,
but the bristle that implants its magic order,
its taurine grandeur, between the first string
and the sixth
and the mendacious eighth, suffers them all.

The pleasure of suffering … Who? whom?
who, the molars? whom society,
the carbides of rage in the gums?
How to be
and to be here, without angering one’s neighbor?

You are worthier than my number, man alone,
and worthier than all the dictionary,
with its prose in poetry,
its poetry in prose,
are your eagle display,
your tiger machinery, bland fellow man.

The pleasure of suffering,
of hoping for hope at the table,
Sunday with all its languages,
Saturday with Chinese, Belgian hours,
the week, with two hockers.

The pleasure of waiting in slippers,
of waiting cringing behind a line,
of waiting empowered with a sick pintle;
the pleasure of suffering: hard left by a female
dead with a stone on her waist
and dead between the string and the guitar,
crying the days and singing the months.

From The Complete Poetry: A Bilingual Edition, Clayton Eshleman translating from the Spanish by César Vallejo
© 2007 The Regents of the University of California

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