César Vallejo – Trilce LIII

11 o'cocks aren't 12's?

One of the central themes of Trilce is Time, with a capital T. Vallejo is never at a loss for ways in which this theme can be woven into that heteroclite poetic which emerges from his most daring work. The language of Trilce LIII is difficult, to say the least, & after recovering from the jaw-dropping imagery, one is undoubtedly left to ask about the meaning of the poem. Perhaps, to obtain an understanding of Vallejo’s concept of Time, we can refer to an essay he wrote, called The Co-substantial Movement of Matter, where he suggests that “life is a succession and not a simultaneity. The apparent parallels of a rail road, are not developed at the same time, but one after another. Men do not live together, but they occur one after another. Towns do not live together either but occur. Plurality is a phenomenon of time and not of space. The number 1 is solitary of place. The number 2 and the subsequent numerals, single or compound, do not exist as objective reality, but as abstract figurations of thought.” Below is a copy of Trilce LIII in Spanish:

LIII

Quién clama las once no son doce!
Como si las hubiesen pujado, se afrontan
de dos en dos las once veces.

Cabezazo brutal. Asoman
las coronas a oír,
pero sin traspasar los eternos
trescientos sesenta grados, asoman
y exploran en balde, dónde ambas manos
ocultan el otro puente que les nace
entre veras y litúrgicas bromas.

Vuelve la frontera a probar
las dos piedras que no alcanzan a ocupar
una misma posada a un mismo tiempo.
La frontera, la ambulante batuta, que sigue
inmutable, igual, sólo
más ella a cada esguince en alto.

Veis lo que es sin poder ser negado,
veis lo que tenemos que aguantar,
mal que nos pese.
¡Cuánto se aceita en codos
que llegan hasta la boca!

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