Roberto Juarroz

Life’s experience runs parallel with the flow of words which explain us and unravel our complex histories.


Some of us take it upon ourselves to live simultaneously in life and in words, some of us discover that this engenders a different sense of temporality, an excruciating intuition into what could be called the truth, death, love….


Our words constitute a search, a quest destined to fail as we stumble on the impossibility of naming what we discover. So we circle around it. We draw sketches and ask questions which are answers to other questions. We untie knots with names such as ‘paradox’ or ‘God’ or ‘Time.’


On this poetic journey, we need to stretch out to strangers we shall never know and yet they become our friends.


The Argentinean author Roberto Juarroz’s poetic meditations bear the title Vertical Poetry and are gathered in a long series of numbered volumes.


From Tenth Vertical Poetry, Translation by Mary Crow, Poem No. 19


La barbarie de la muerte,
la rùstica pantomoma de la muerte
y su cruel y vulgar inhumanidad
no hacen juego con el pensamiento.


Tal vez el amor o el dolor
puedan pactar con ella
y quizà también la mùsica o el sueno,
pero el pensamiento es una bandera
plantada en otra parte,
como lo es ademàs la poesia.


Ambos enrolan en su indole abierta
las antinomias de la muerte.
Sin embargo,
una cosa es sacar rostros de la nada
y otra cosa es borrarlos.
Lo mismo con testigo o sin ellos.


la poesia y el pensar
son lo màs opuesto a la muerte
porque son sus testigos mas fieles.

The barbarity of death,
the rustic pantomime of death
and its cruel and vulgar inhumanity,
don’t go with thought.


Perhaps love and pain
can make a pact with death
and maybe also music and dreams,
but thought is a flag
planted somewhere else,
as poetry also is.


Both wrap up the antinomies of death
in their own nature.
it’s one thing to draw faces out of nothing
and another to erase them.
It’s the same whether there are witnesses or not.


Poetry and thought
are precisely
the most opposed to death
because they are its most faithful witnesses.