Jorge Eielson – Dark Night of the Body (bilingual)

 

In 1955, Jorge Eduardo Eielson published Dark Night of the Body (Rome). [1] Chronologically, this comes after Mutatis Mutandis and before De Materia Verbalis. There are noticeable organic connections between these works, which help shed light on Eielson’s poetic production as a whole. First, as one critic has noted, Dark Night of the Body picks up on some of the biblical and mystical themes that had appeared in the prior works, and the title itself seems to be a play on Dark Night of the Soul, by Sor Juan de la Cruz. [2]

Eielson’s Dark Night… is a penetrating adventure into the house of being, into the language of human existence & into a search for an understanding of the relationship of one being among others. In this sense, it is one of the poet’s most philosophical endeavors. Take, for example, the poem “Multiplied Body,” where the poet systematically eliminates his own corporal presence in order to reveal a spiritual nakedness only visible in the dark; and it is precisely in the dark that the relationship between the part and the whole becomes visible:

The same color film
In the same dark room
Pulls me in & cuts me off from everyone
I am the only one like everyone & like everyone
I am only one

The 14 bodies that make up the collection represent a significant achievement in the poetic production of the Peruvian poet. Dark Night… possesses remarkable cohesion––an aspect which some of Eielson’s collections at times lack. The unity of content & form is well measured; the images, carefully crafted; and the language, characteristically minimalist, which can be seen as one of the poet’s trademarks.

1. The present translation has been based on Noche oscura del cuerpo, included in Poema en Roma (ed. Martha L. Canfield. Madrid: Visor, 2009).

2. For more on this, see Luiz Rebaza Soraluz’s Prologue to Arte Poética (Lima: PUCP, 2004, 26-27).

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