Third Series 1944

Eve Merriam
John Frederic Nims
Jean Garrigue
Tennessee Williams
Alejandro Carrión



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New Landscape Light (Luz del Nuevo Paisaje)

Fair sweet Singer to Sleep of Dreams... (Dulce Niñera Rubia de los Sueños ...)

Tree (Arbol)

Basis for the Development of the Good Life (Cimiento y Desarrollo de la Vida Tranquila)

The Good Year (Buen Año)

Blockading Red Hope  (Bloqueo a la Esperanza Roja)

Deluge (Inundación)

Song to My Silence (Canto a mi Silencio)

Prayer (Plegaria)


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ALEJANDRO CARRIÓN AGUIRRE was born in 1915 in Loja, Ecuador, where he received his education and where he still lives. There is not much to be said about his personal life except that he has been extremely active in forming and reforming those little groups of radical intellectuals, writers and artists, which are so characteristic of contemporary Latin-American civilization. From these have sprung various periodicals and reviews which have seldom lived long, but which during their short span have been extremely influential, both artistically and politically; for it must always be remembered that poetry and the other arts are not only taken seriously in the lands to the south of us, but are actual compelling forces in the daily life of the common man or woman. Publication as we understand it-definitively, in book form-is no easier there than it is here; but the Latin-American poet has a large and sympathetic audience which he meets in the daily press or by means of literary reviews.

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.

Sr. Carrión has published two collections of poems: Luz del Nuevo Paisaje (Quito, 1937) and ¡Aquí, España Nuestra! (Quito, 1938) and his uncollected verse has appeared in many of the principal reviews of the Continent. The poems in the present group, translated by Dudley Fitts and Francis St. John, have been chosen from his first book and from his unpublished work.





It may be that the beauty of landscapes

exists only in our eyes:

Tomorrow, no other landscape will be seen

than a church in flames,

and then we shall have lost the count

of clenched hands:

for we shall have risen by then

and sown with our cries

that field which before was the realm of silence only.

A hundred million bullets will have sped

to explore the breasts of a hundred million men,

and we shall see the crumbling battalions fall

like kernels of corn.

Beside what was once a house

a deaf child, entranced, will watch

a rose of blood blossoming upon a breast

from the narrow cranny of a wound.

(No longer sweet landscapes,

no longer songs of birds to beguile our bunger,

no longer pods singing the beauty of the stars

and the gay curves of riggish females).

We shall all have gone back to the earth

and we shall feel that our roots are growing into it.

And while the fanes burn red, color of blood,

since the seed of that flame will have sprung from our very hearts,

our lips will sing a strong hymn of total owning,

of endless joy, above that new earth

that will have flowered as never before,

made fertile by a hundred million dead.


men and machines,

in their eyes an unknown new light,

their breasts swollen with the recent song,

shall march, gravely, through the falling dusk,

searching for silence.





In you. Tenderness, newly born.

The freshness of water in the morning.

Light, when light is still a child.

The color of fruit. The softness of moss.

The color of desire. The guileless smile.

The pain of tears. Tranquil silence.

The ineffable word of the last song.

In you. Within you. Where tenderness had been born.

The line of your lips. The line of waves.

The adorable line of light upon the lips.

The word which leaps, which shrinks and stretches.

The word which grows until it becomes song.

Color in the fields. The sound of ram.

The coming of the wind. Terror in nests.

The old, slow voyage of the cloud in the sky.

In you. Ah because of you. Little cause of great actions.

Dawn was breaking. Breaking eternally,

sweet, eternal lap of soft tenderness.

Not night. Not the hushed night.

Here, newly born, I have the sun's light.

I have the sun's light through the water.

I have the sun's light and the color of fruit.

I have the sun's light weaving cobwebs on my fingers.

I have the sun's height leaping in a smile.

Dawn was breaking, breaking eternally,

sweet, eternal lap of soft tenderness.

She was flying in your wings, swallow.

She was flying in the light trace of your steps, gazelle.

She was flying in the light, in the bright reflection

of the piece of glass which lures the lark.

She was flying in the comets, in the infinite azure.

In the wave which leaps over ah eternity.

In the gentle warmth of sand on the beach.

In the clear word. In the sweet savor.

Here, here is the frontier.

The inviolable frontier.

You shall not pass farther in your flight, song.

Now you will swerve, fickle swallow.

Your step will falter, gracile blond gazelle.

Your caress will cease, soft tranquil hand.

Here, song, here is the frontier of your notes.

Here is the word. Come to receive your eyes.

To count your steps, nursemaid,

fair sweet singer to sleep of dreams.

In your mouth was born calm tenderness.

In my mouth was born the calm word.

In my body was born the soft motion

and this tranquil and strong longing of my arms,

of my dark arms, stretched toward your body,

fair sweet nursemaid of the sweetest dreams.





I see you here, battered by a wind of centuries,

hard, your tender fibre almost turned to steel,

your bark cracked, full of deep clefts,

wrinkled by years,

and your roots hidden, mysterious,

but always present,

making their way among dissimilar soils,

between dark strata, skirting hard stones,

slicing rocks with terrible diastases of resistless tooth,

in search of the tender life, the soft, the sweet,

the good active sap which circulates,

dancing, running, animating and raising up.

I see you here, battered by a wind of centuries,

tender fabric of tenacious leaves,

motionless beneath the sky, in perpetual and erect surprise,

with the chemical poem of your chlorophyll,

rising beneath the Sun to your limit,

your impalpable, invisible, invincible, insurmountable limit,

crushing your top against the wall of the air,

the wall, the wall, the wall encompassing you,

creature of two worlds, creature of air and rock,

creature of wind and earth, of light and shadow.

I see you here, crushing your top against the air,

sinking your insatiable roots of life

until they shatter their tender, avid filaments

against the dark limit, the insurmountable limit,

the invisible, palpable limit of the deep rock.

Durable creature between tenacious limits.

Creature of a double world, aerobian and subterranean,

amphibious, sonorous and silent,

who grow in two directions and are strong and powerful

and move toward the perfect north and the authentic


creature of perfect vertical dimensions,

exploring and focusing with blind eyes and deep, immobile feet,

airy and tender, free and enchained, defenseless and


without restlessness, without baste, without peace and

without battle,

expert in true movement, in full activity,

in simultaneous ascending and descending,

inhabitant of the heights and the depths,

of thirst and satiety, of summer and rain,

of air and emptiness, of solitude and company.

Vegetant, in a cell susceptible of hardening its walls,

you are built and you grow and you love in the wind

and you sleep by night and blossom and sing,

full of birds and fireflies, full of caterpillars and cocoons,

with your leaves immobile and mobile, eager and thirsting,

tireless lungs the color of hope,

fountains and suction-cups, springs and sponges,

genitals and thrusting, lungs and excretories.

I see you, breathe you, push you away and snatch you to


and I climb into your branches and take refuge in your


and sing to you and augur death in flame and rain,

sepulcher of ashes and phosphorescence of crawfish,

death bound axe and crashing lightning,

hero of the tempest in the wreck of a ship,

gentle support of nest and father of seed,

rafter of house, food of tender fire, wood of altar,

warm nuptial bed, humble painted chair,

violin, saint, coffin, electric light pole,

hard mortal weapon, cruel pointed splinter,

window of my room and floor of my chamber,

balcony where Romeo embraces Juliet,

and mast where Ulysses flees from the siren.

I know how you slept hidden in the seed,

tiny, in my pocket, impalpable and weightless,

and I know that your weight now would crush my soul.

I know how there, in your blossom, a golden insect

fertilized you with pollen from afar, through the love of

wind or bee,

in a clean drop of water, O tree! thirsty being,

affinity of my thirsting flesh

and of my voice, which is also a tree,

a tree of blood upon my humble vertical clay

which lies down for pleasure, for sleep or bitterness

and dies hardened like your old trunk,

tree of my body, which grows in one direction only,

and my love, which is love of company and not of wind

or bee,

and my seed, which floats in humid humors

and is violent and is fragile and slow and long-suffering

and full of diverse vexatious moistures.

I see you, here, battered by a wind of centuries,

crushing your top against the air,

moving upwards and downwards,

creature of two worlds, and I contemplate you with my

human eyes,

I, creature of a poor world,

poor aerobic creature without roots, moving horizontally,

incapable of your strength, your high depth and deep


and your infinitesimal seed and your unruffled love.

I see you, dead, in phosphorescence or in moth

-cold light of phantasm, dust of the centuries-

and I see myself, dead in decay and foetor

-rebellion of my flesh, punishment of my desire-.

I see you, a corpse in dust, in perfume and in mushroom,

and I see myself in worms, in lime, and in coffins

worked from your scented flesh, polluting your perfume

with my posthumous stench.

(F. S.)








When joy blossomed everywhere.

When a surf-like murmur rose

from the green plain.

When the quick blood went singing

like a little girl.


the light knocked at his eyelids like a bashful lover at a closed door.

Around him

was all the love in the world.

Everything was awaiting him:

the candid smile of his mother, bestowing such tenderness as is the dawn's;

the long dreams that his father would build upon his love;

the white sheets that would cover his weak white body,

and the white hands of the white sick-nurse.

To grow upon the gaze of his father and mother.

To feel God transferred from his mother's eyes to his own.

To play, with pure joy in his eyes

and the pure smile deepening in his innocent face.

It would all be easy for him in his good life.

When his muscles hardened, and the beard blossomed on his young cheeks

and his gaze was more than five feet above the ground, the pretty women sought his caresses

and scattered their smiles in his lilting life.

Sorrow fled from beside him- walking in silence- lest it disturb his sleep.


was the money he had, that can open any closed door.

For the soles of his feet, every road.

For his eyes, every landscape.

For his body, every caress

and that sweet weariness of never having known weariness.

And to know the world. To lift his eyes

beyond the blue mountains surrounding the place of his


To learn geography in floating palaces.

To learn that the sea, like a river, has its own banks.

Cities he beheld, rising before his young eyes,

eager to share their secrets with him, as

the pretty women were.

He learned not to marvel.

He lost the faculty of gazing with wonder.

And when he came home, his life was broad,

his breast full of worlds; his gaze, of islands;

and in his fulfilled life, a baseless sense of emptiness.

One day death arrived.

He closed his eyes

as though to sleep off his last fling.

There was no one to mourn him. He left no seed.

He died like the trees in the public parks.

But that meant nothing now: he no longer was living.




Everywhere. In every comer of the blue horizon.

From shining dawn till night touches the land with its

dusky caress.

Everywhere, the same men, sweaty, embittered.

The same men, brought into being at the summons of


lacking even a birth-clout, their eyes teeming with tears.

Men for working. Men for working, never

men for living.

Men for working . . . and then,

men for dying.

With no one to mourn them. Their eyes stone-dry.

A parching drought in their breasts.


From one bank to the other of the sun's highway.

In the cane fields. Where the heat drains the nerves.

Where death leaps from copses and tiny pools

to glut the air.

Where death sticks to the footsteps of men.

Where death attacks al the turning of every comer.

And on the distant range. The clouds knotted about the


the song gone to shreds, alcohol like a bonfire warming


On the distant range. Where death laughs

in the waxen faces of frozen men.

Where they walk in mud to their necks.

Where there is not even the comfort of knowing that the

sky's color is blue.

Everywhere. In sun and rain.

Working in sun and rain.

Working when the child is born, when the mother dies.

Working with death growing deep in the body, with death

overflowing within.

Everywhere. In sun and ram.

Swamp-fever and cramp. No food, no love.

Knowing no more world than the piece of earth

where the hoe bites in or the cane-knife strikes.


The terrible sentence of eternal work.

A lash hanging above the sick back,

ready to fall at the first relaxation.

An everlasting lash incrusted into life.

No smiles.

Mouths turned to stone in their motionless faces.

No caresses.

Not the knowing caresses of pretty women

that make life sweet.

No knowledge of the taste of wine.

No knowledge that wine

sometimes can boil like the blood.

Never having seen the sea.

Not knowing that its bitter waves had the bitterness of

men's lives.

Making children without hope,

like the numberless beasts of the field.

Children, children: for working, working;

never children for living.

Children for working, working, working;

always, children for dying.

No thought.

No laughter.

No song.

No knowledge of dream or taste of love.

No recourse to tears, the eyes turned to stone,

from that first day when was born in their eyes and died

in their eyes

their first and last tear

For what?

For a basis.

The basis of a good life. Of an untroubled and sensual

good life.

To erect upon it, like a fine building,

a sweet smile on the lips of a man,

of a man who will die in silence, like the trees in the

public gardens,

without leaving behind him a living memory oh his


(D. F.)




A song sprang to their lips,

just as in spring

joy is born to the new plants.

Their eyes, with a caressing softness,

looked out upon the fields:

for it was a good year.

The wheat, as never before, covered the earth with gold.

There was fear that tables would not have room for the


and that hearts would prove too small for so much


Flowers had burst into bloom in every glance,

and on every hp a smile was blossoming.

Never had love so many couples to join

as now, in the good year, golden as the bread.

But that was not how it turned out.

A flood of wheatfields and flowers burst from the earth.

But hunger did not disappear from among the farmers.

The landlord gentry carne from the city

to carry off, laughing, the fruits of the earth:

and with these they took the singing as well.

On every hp the smiles died

At the empty tables there was sighing for bread.

Every glance disclosed the thorn among the flowers,

and love was forgotten like a school lesson.

A great sorrow sprouted from the fields

to binder the gentlemen on their way back home.

The trees were heard in doleful protestation:

The year is never good for those who till the soil!






Drops of dew

twinkle on the windows of the workers' houses.


Men shudder with a dark foreboding

as, with their heads lowered, they go out into the streets.

In the sad gloom of a worker's house

the quavering of an old woman who says,

Careful, son, careful that they don't kill you.


upon a rude cradle, the eyes of a man

are the living image of pure tenderness.

This evening a mother

will give bitter milk to her sleepy child

and the lullaby

will stick, mute, at the bottom of her heart.

In the humble houses, for the father's life

a prayer rises above ah the shrieking:

O God, don't let a bullet hit him!

Outside, death hovers above the crowds.


The storm rises in the workers' breasts.

We have come to that anguished and dreadful day

which burns in the calendars with red flames.

Flame, flame,

gigantic bursts of flame rising

from heart to eye.

It is the fever of the scream that drives men mad.

The fever which throbs in the hard subversive slogan.

The fever that lends that red-hot brilliance to eyes.

The fever, the uncheckable fever of laborers.


In the street

a forest of shouts grows above the silence

and a cloud of fists comes between the sun and the earth.

Only once in a year do these sad men come

to the central streets.

Only once in a year. To claim their bread. To claim peace.

To make a reckoning with the few men who administer


Only once in a year. When in their sad hearts

the tempest rises.

A dike of guns, in the central streets,

is a jetty against the rising human tide.

How sweet it is to slash workers' flesh

with a fine shiny German bayonet!

How pretty it is to fed your own dagger

opening a way into the bottom of a heart!

How gay it is to sow red flowers

on the breasts of weaponless men!

Soldiers are men, and like men they forget.

Forget that those shouting men are flesh of their flesh.

And they cut down their lives. On that bloody day

when they come to beg 'the others' for their peace.

After the first volley

there are many, face down, embracing the earth.

And in the clouded eyes of a dying man

appears the blurred shape of a child.

This is the first day of the month which Christians

have dedicated to the gentle memory of the Mother of


(On the breast of a boy coming home from school

a bullet's touch has opened the way for a fountain of


and the child, in death, found no other word

than his mother's name. With her, on this day,

trustingly, he was going to pray to the Mother of God.)

Red roses flower on the workers' breasts.

We shall begin this month of flowers and of spring

by offering up red roses of blood to the Mother of God.

In the red dusk

hearths without number are drenched with tears.

No longer the hard bread and the rough embrace

of the good plain worker.

No longer the hoarse voice of the man who earned his


as God commanded.

On the day of labor, the day of flowers,

the sacrosanct day of the Mother of God,

he went to beg 'the others' for better pay.

And a bullet gave him peace for ever.


Thin drops of mourning

tremble on the lashes of the mothers of the poor.







Maddened, blind, the runaway rivers,

swollen lo their limit with the supreme anguish,

louder than shrieking, more turbulent than tears,

have stripped the land of its golden garb of harvest,

abolished the deep furrows of its hope

and the white roads that men traced there

in their old yearning for escape and dream.


Come, behold the slow death of all that lives in the placid


Come with clean eyes, the world forgotten,

For this moment brings death to the ancient woods.

See how the flood surmounts the centuries.

Come, behold the death of the sacred great tree

whose boughs felt the sweet building of the first nest.

Ah, the final death of the oldest trees!


 Come, behold the slow death of quiet hamlets,

come with gentle eyes, gather up in your eyes all the

world's love,

for in the houses of the town only drowned children


See how the flood sweeps over ah life.

Come, behold the lamentable journey, with no return,

of shattered houses going to meet the sea.


 Bring a steady pulse, for the pain is great.

Subdue the mortal trembling of your two fluttering hands,

for the pain is already at the outer limit.

Open wide your eyes. But above all,

clasp your hands to your breast.

Take care lest the heart suspend its eternal beat.

See, see how your old parents,


their arms crossed, their eyes glazed,

pass also to the sea.


Come, behold the flood which reaches to the spirit.

Come, behold water invading the clear eye,

the infinite tenderness of the last image,

the wrenched march of the final smile,

the hushed wreck of peaceful recollection …

(Where now, tiny swallow, can you find

repose from flight?)

See how the gardens of the town sink down.

See how the fairest flowers are wrecked

and the twinkling coats of the loveliest insects go out.

See how it sinks, that old house

where your eyes for the first time knew the sun's light.


But salvage Joy! Do not let Joy die!

See how Joy pleads for your aid, from dead eyes

scarfed up with water!

Quickly! Save Joy!

Do not let Joy die!


Come, behold the waters invading the sleeping ships.

Come, see the waters swelling about the slender columns.

Come, hear the deaf murmur of the sunken temple.

Behold the wreckage of altars.

See how Faith, stiffened, goes down into the flood.

See how the waves overtake the delicate prayers

flying like arrows to heaven.

Come and see the drowning of ah prayers.

Come and see the mute shuddering bells

submerged in water.

Ah, bring your faith to the flooded church!

Bring your prayers and drown them,

lest they survive alone!

Come, hear the deaf murmur of the sunken temple.


And now?

Now we are alone.

Ours is this solitude of the frozen fields.

We are but four.

Only in us four is there life remaining.

Here. Bound to the trunk of this veteran eucalyptus

that was a century old when the village was born.

Desperate because they could not kindle a flame,

they have died of cold,

those men who found refuge in the mountains.

We alone have life

Let it not be taken from us by this flood of sobbing

in our stricken throats!

Let it not be taken from us

until we have found the corpse of ah our joy!

[D. F.]




I would listen now to my silence.

I would hear myself be still, hear myself, tense,

being still, pulse to pulse, vein to vein,

eyelid to eyelid, within, in my secret

being, behind my hair, back of my skin,

in the holy mysterious blood

which nourishes my heart, there, where is strongest

the thirst of my silence, where is mute,

grateful and initiate, my silent body.

I would hear myself be still in the deep

tireless silence of my flesh,

behind the juicy pulp of my lips,

behind the austere presence of my nails,

in the perfect warp of the muscles

which my fingers govern, in the very

ligament, incomparable and tender,

of my ophthalmic nerves, in the secret

hollow beneath my knees, in the pure

subtle and sad thirst of my eyelash,

in the world of silent beings

which guard my hushed testicles,

in the obscure shelter of my hair

and in the hushed strength of my years.

Listen well: I am still and I introduce myself

-within me-to ah my silences;

I walk through my veins and I harvest

all my prodigal cells in perfect growth.

I am very young, very young and hushed,

for I know that in me lives a universe

of perfect, insatiable silences,

within my ankles, in the strong

and elastic justice of my veins,

behind the clear wall of my forehead,

in my Achilles tendon, untiring

in my sex which wounds and is wounded.

I feel ah my silence burn,

I feel it burn, perfect, irresistible,

in my voracious teeth, in my neck

which sustains my hushed marrow.

I live thus, in my silence,

biological and eternal and susceptible

of being filled with ancient clamor.

[F. S.]




Keep me like the apple of the eye;

hide me under the shadow of thy wings.

Psalm XVII, 8.

Keep me, yes, behind the warm shadow

of blood and sleep, of eyelash and tear.

Keep me behind the red curtain of thine eyelid,

in the hidden chamber of thy pure glances.

Where a red net of inflamed veins

crosses the white cornea, blazing streams

behind the tiny ram of tears.

Behold here how a light, arid and dry,

ceaselessly surrounds me in summer and desert.

Behold what a cruel drought behind my head increases

its fires and parched lands, its thirst and skull.

Stretch thy broad wings, my winged protectress,

shelter me and protect me in thy shadow, in thine eyelid,

from all cruel burning solitude,

all unwedded light, arid, sandy

in dry, cruel dunes without paths or oasis.

Let me protect myself behind the sweet curtain

where thy sleep dreams, where thy tears weep,

where thy look makes clear its companionable light;

where thy gentle wings create shadow and cocoon

and produce an atmosphere of tenderness and wonder,

and then, an interweaving of tears and desires,

offer the limpid pool and satiate with friendly light,

filling to its brim my cup of blood.



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