The anger that breaks a man down into boys


The anger that breaks a man down into boys,
that breaks the boy down into equal birds,
and the bird, then, into tiny eggs;
the anger of the poor
owns one smooth oil against two vinegars.

The anger that breaks the tree down into leaves,
and the leaf down into different-sized buds,
and the buds into infinitely fine grooves;
the anger of the poor
owns two rivers against a number of seas.

The anger that breaks the good down into doubts,
and doubts down into three matching arcs,
and the arc, then, into unimaginable tombs;
the anger of the poor
owns one piece of steel against two daggers.

The anger that breaks the soul down into bodies,
the body down into different organs,
and the organ down into reverberating octaves of thoughts;
the anger of the poor
owns one deep fire against two craters.


                             Spanish; trans. Robert Bly


Cesar Vallejo, Spanish, trans. Robert Bly, Neruda and Vallejo: Selected Poems, Robert Bly, ed., Beacon Press, 1993.