SERMON ON DEATH

  SERMON ON DEATH

And at last, moving on to death's dominion,
that acts in squadron, foregoing bracket,
and paragraph and brace, big hand and dieresis;
- why the Assyrian dais? Why the Christian pulpit,
the ardent ramrod of vandal furniture
or even less, this gravest retirement?

 Is it to end up,
tomorrow, in prototype of phallic display,
in diabetes and in white bedpan,
in geometrical face, in defunct,
that one needs a sermon and almonds,
that there are literally potatoes to spare
and this fluvial spectre in which gold burns
and in which the price of snow burns up?
Is it for this we die so much?
Do we have to die each instant
just to die?
And the paragraph I'm writing?
And the deistic bracket I'm hoisting?
And the squadron in which my helmet failed?
And the key that fits in every door?
And the forensic dieresis, the hand,
my potato, my flesh and, under the sheets, my contradiction?

 My lunacy, my wolfness, my lambness,
my rational horseness!
Dais, yes, my whole life; pulpit,
also, my whole death!
Sermon of barbarism: these pages;
gravest retirement: this slough.

 In this manner, pensive, auriferous, armful,
in two moments I will defend my prey
with my voice and also with my larynx,
and of the physical smell I pray with,
and of the instinct for immobility I walk with,
I will honour myself as long as I live - it has to be said;
and my botflies will engorge with pride
for I'm at the centre, and on the right
as well, and on the left, just the same.

8 Dic 1937

César Vallejo
Translators: Michael Smith & Valentino Gianuzzi


Poemas humanos (1939)  
Original version