The Black Riders
by Cesar Vallejo
(translated by Robert Bly)
There are blows in life so violent—I can’t answer!
Blows as if from the hatred of God; as if before them,
the deep waters of everything lived through
were backed up in the soul . . . I can’t answer!
Not many; but they exist . . . They open dark ravines
in the most ferocious face and in the most bull-like back.
Perhaps they are the horses of that heathen Atilla,
or the black riders sent to us by Death.
They are the slips backward made by the Christs of the soul,
away from some holy faith that is sneered at by Events.
These blows that are bloody are the crackling sounds
from some bread that burns at the oven door.
And man . . . poor man! . . . poor man!
He swings his eyes, as
when a man behind us calls us by clapping his hands;
Swings his crazy eyes, and everything alive
is backed up, like a pool of guilt, in that glance.
There are blows in life so violent . . . I can’t answer!