From the Equator


Randall Jarrell   From:  Kipling, Auden & Co.  (essays and reviews 1935-1964).  Farrar, Straus and Giroux – new york  From:  Poetry in War and Peace, Partisan Review, winter 1945. When it comes to poems in Spanish I am in the position of the orangoutang Furness taught to say Papa and cup; Alejandro Carrión’s real productions can evoke from me only Ah, si or !Que lindo es Michoacan ! - The two phrases Mexico taught me to love or to pronounce. The translations are collocations of images and sentiments unexceptionable enough to remind one of the identity of indiscernibles, or of the Egyptian letters Gardiner mentions, where the reader understands every word and every sentence, but neither why they were written nor what they were intended to convey. One can be too neighborly.

New Directions Publishers, Five Young American Poets, Third Series, 1944. The poetry of Alejandro Carrión is earthy, direct, intense. He himself writes of it that it is composed under great excitement, and that its first form is its final form-once set down, it is no longer of interest to him, and he never revises. If this is literally true, it may account for a certain repetitiveness, a discursiveness, which weakens the structure of some of the poems (of Arbol, for instance, which would have gained much from a pruning away of half the antithetical couplets); but it is also the source of a freshness, an immediacy, that is as powerful as it is engaging. The zonal effects, which in Spanish are intricate and carefully calculated, can not, unhappily, be reproduced in translation; but the imagery can, and it is largely because of its imagery that this poetry deserves a hearing in our own language.