César Vallejo – Trilce XII

Vallejo’s second book of poems, Trilce, is remarkable for a number of reasons. One of these which over time has increasingly aroused my interest is its very non-programmatic nature, quite distinct from Vallejo’s contemporaries. One needs only to consider the Futurist, Dadaist & Surrealist manifestos, or the Martín Fierro movement backed by Girondo in Argentina, or Pound, Williams & Doolittle espousing their poetic dos-&-don’ts, and it becomes quite clear that Vallejo was on a differ tip altogether.

Trilce 1922 Cover

The Andean poet did not leave the poem & enter that meta-poetic space in which the guidelines of poetic creation are given in the poem itself. Only in prose did he touch on this topic, and even there, he is more interested in pointed out the shortcomings of such an endeavor than he is, proposing his own program (cf. Autopsy of Surrealism). Trilce XII is representative of this demonstrative thread in Vallejo. While it is very pronounced in Trilce, by far his masterpiece & most difficult work, it can also be seen in Los Heraldos Negros (1919) and the posthumous poetry published from Europe. Here’s a copy of the Spanish version of Trilce XII:

XII

Escapo de una finta, peluza a peluza.
Un proyectil que no sé dónde irá a caer.
Incertidumbre. Tramonto. Cervical coyuntura.

Chasquido de moscón que muere
a mitad de su vuelo y cae a tierra.
¿Qué dice ahora Newton?
Pero, naturalmente, vosotros sois hijos.

Incertidumbre. Talones que no giran.
Carilla en nudo, fabrida
cinco espinas por un lado
y cinco por el otro: Chit! Ya sale.

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