Cesar Vallejo’s The Black Riders

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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!

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Gerard Manley Hopkins’ – The Windhover

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Randall Jarrell once said, “A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times; a dozen or two dozen times and he is great.” Gerard Manley Hopkins’, who was both exacting and inspired, counted his poem “The Windhover” as his greatest work, and many readers agree.  He was surely struck rapt by lightning the morning he marveled at this hovering windhover, which, flying in place, are considered a symbol of Christ crucified.  Read carefully one finds that it has fewer violations of grammar than it may seem initially, because while every moment the language seems to flow and rush in transcendent association, the verbal sense is still maintained smoothly, even while the description performs its wild maneuvers. It reminds me that fire that is the most beautiful thing.