FLAME, SPEECH

    FLAME, SPEECH

I read in a poem:
to talk is divine.
But the gods don't speak:
they make and unmake worlds
while men do the talking.
They play frightening games
without words.

The spirit descends,
loosening tongues,
but doesn't speak words:
¡t speaks fire.
Lii by a god,
language becomes
a prophecy
of flames and a tower
of smoke and collapse
of syllables burned:
ash without meaning.

The word of man
is the daughter of death.
We talk because we are mortal:
words are not signs, they are years.
Saying what they say,
the words we are saying
say time: they name us.
We are time's names.

The dead are mute
but they also say
what we are saying.
Language is the house
of all, hanging over the abyss.
To talk is human.


Octavio Paz
Translated by Mark Strand



   Árbol adentro (1976-1988) Un sol más vivo    
Original version
Versión posterior en Obra poética (1935-1988)

Incluido en http://www.brindin.com/