USTICA*

    USTICA

The successive suns of summer,
The succession of the sun and of its summers,
All the suns,
The sole, the sol of sols
Now become
Obstinate and tawny bone,
Darkness-before-the-storm
Of matter cooled.

 Fist of stone,
Pine-cone of lava,
Ossuary,
Not earth
Nor island either,
Rock off a rock-face,
Hard peach,
Sun-drop petrified.

Through the nights one hears
The breathing of cisterns,
The panting of fresh water
Troubled by the sea.
The hour is late and the light, greening.
The obscure body of the wine
Asleep in jars
Is a darker and cooler sun.

Here the roses of the depths
Is a candelabrum of pinkish veins
Kindled on the sea-bed.
Ashore, the sun extinguishes it,
Pale, chalky lace
As if desire were worked by death.

Cliffs the colour of sulphur,
High austere stones.
You are beside me.
Your thoughts are black and golden.
To extend a hand
Is to gather a cluster of truths intact.
Below, between sparkling rocks
Goes and comes
A sea full of arms.
Vertigoes. The light hurls itself headlong.
I looked you in the face,
I saw into the abyss:
Mortality is transparency.

Ossuary: paradise:
Our roots, knotted
In sex, in the undone mouth
Of the buried Mother.
Incestuous trees
That maintain
A garden on the dead's domain.


Octavio Paz
Translated by Charles Tomlinson



   Salamandra (1958-1961)    
Original version

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