César Vallejo – Trilce XXIX

bottled up tedium

One of the shortest poems of the collection, Trilce XXIX reaches a surprising level of complexity & depth in just 9 short lines. The “tedio enfrascado” is emblematic of the book as a whole; it is the same tedium or boredom that comes through the prison poems surrounded ‘by the four walls of the cell’.

The “caña” is another remarkable image. While several translators have rendered it literally as “cane” (i.e. sugarcane), numerous Peruvian critics have pointed out the reference to Pascal and “la caña pensante”, which in English becomes “the thinking reed”. This interpretation seems more plausible to me, & by the mere fact that this evident meaning has yet to be rendered as such in English, I am inclined to translate it this way. Here is the Spanish version of the poem.


Zumba el tedio enfrascado
bajo el momento improducido y caña.

Pasa una paralela a
ingrata línea quebrada de felicidad.
Me extraña cada firmeza, junto a esa agua
que se aleja, que ríe acero, caña.

Hilo retemplado, hilo, hilo binómico
¿por dónde romperás, nudo de guerra?

Acoraza este ecuador, Luna.

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