from Our Bread by Cesar Vallejo

And in this frigid hour, when the earth
smells of human dust and is so sad,
I want to knock on every door
and beg forgiveness of I don’t know whom,
and bake bits of fresh bread for him,
here, in the oven of my heart. . .

translated by Rebecca Seiferle

Masses by Cesar Vallejo

. . .When the battle was over,
and the fighter was dead, a man came toward him
and said to him: “Do not die; I love you so!”
But the corpse, it was sad! went on dying.

. . .And two came near, and told him again and again:
“Do not leave us! Courage! Return to life!”
But the corpse, it was sad! went on dying.

. . .Twenty arrived, a hundred, a thousand, five hundred thousand,
shouting: “So much love, and it can do nothing against death!”
But the corpse, it was sad! went on dying.

. . .Millions of persons stood around him,
all speaking the same thing: “Stay here, brother!”
But the corpse, it was sad! went on dying.

. . .Then all the men of the earth
stood around him; the corpse looked at them sadly, deeply moved;
he sat up slowly,
put his arms around the first man; started to walk. . .

translated by Robert Bly

Black Stone Lying On A White Stone by Cesar Vallejo

I will die in Paris, on a rainy day,
on some day I can already remember.
I will die in Paris–and I don’t step aside–
perhaps on a Thursday, as today is Thursday, in autumn.

It will be a Thursday, because today, Thursday, setting down
these lines, I have put my upper arm bones on
wrong, and never so much as today have I found myself
with all the road ahead of me, alone.

Cesar Vallejo is dead. Everyone beat him,
although he never does anything to them;
they beat him hard with a stick and hard also

with a rope. These are the witnesses:
the Thursdays, and the bones of my arms,
the solitude, and the rain, and the roads . . .

translated by Robert Bly & John Knoepfle