Posted on March 16, 2015
Cesar Vallejo is considered by some to be one of the great poets of the 20th Century.
He published just three books of poetry during his life – but each is considered revolutionary!
|Vallejo's most famous photograph appears|
on Peru's money.
So...why don't I know him, or his work? Probably because he wrote in Spanish. Still, writer Thomas Merton called Vallejo “the greatest universal poet since Dante,” and poet and literature expert Martin Seymour-Smith said that he was the “greatest twentieth-century poet in any language.”
Vallejo's full name was Cesar Abraham Vallejo Mendoza, and he was born in Peru on this date in 1892. He was the youngest of eleven children, and he was raised in a remote village in the Andes Mountains. Still, he managed to study in a university, although he had to take some time off, when his money ran out, to work at a sugar plantation.
After he earned his university degree, Vallejo moved to Lima, where he worked as a school teacher and started meeting people in the arts and in politics. He had a tough year when his mother died, because he lost his job and was imprisoned for allegedly coming up with the idea for some sort of protest or political event. Later, the Judiciary of Peru said that he was unfairly accused, but there still seemed to be a threat in continuing to live in Peru.
So Vallejo moved to Europe.
The poet mostly lived in Paris, although he took several trips to the U.S.S.R. and spent several years in Spain. He knew famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, and he wrote articles for newspapers and magazines in Lima, Peru, and also in other parts of Latin America, Spain, France, and Italy. Vallejo wrote two books about the U.S.S.R., several plays, a novel, and even a children's book. After his death (he died in his mid-40s from sort of illness), two more books of his poetry were published.
Here is one of Vallejo's poems:
BY Cesar Vallejo
I'm sitting here on the old patio
beside your absence. It is a black well.
We'd be playing, now. . . I can hear Mama yell
"Boys! Calm down!" We'd laugh, and off I'd go
to hide where you'd never look. . . under the stairs,
in the hall, the attic. . . Then you'd do the same.
Miguel, we were too good at that game.
Everything would always end in tears.
No one was laughing on that August night
you went to hide away again, so late
it was almost dawn. But now your brother's through
with this hunting and hunting and never finding you.
The shadows crowd him. Miguel, will you hurry
and show yourself? Mama will only worry.
|This monument to Vallejo stands |
in Lima Peru. It says, “There
is, brothers, very much to do.”
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