Oh the cell's four walls

                XVIII

Oh the cell's four walls.
Ah the four whitish walls
yielding ever the same result.

 Cradle of nerves, fateful breach,
how day after day, with its four corners
it tears apart the fettered limbs.

 Loving wardess with countless keys,
were you here, could you see to what
late hour these walls are four.
Up against them, with you, we both
would be two, more two than ever. Nor would you cry,
right, rescuer!

 Ah the cell's walls.
Of these I ache, meanwhile, more
from the two long ones which tonight
evoke mothers long dead
leading down bromided slopes,
each a child by the hand.

 And only I am left behind
with a right hand that works for both,
raised, on the look out for a tertiary arm
that between my where and my when
may pupil this disabled maturity of manhood.

César Vallejo, 1922
Translators: Michael Smith & Valentino Gianuzzi


Trilce (1922)
Original version