Some Days A Fruitful, Cautious Longing
Comes Over Me
Some days a fruitful, cautious longing comes over me,
to love and kiss affection on both cheeks,
and from afar there comes to me,
demonstrative, a wish, a different wish of loving, strong,
the one who hates me, the one who tears up his role, the little boy,
the one who weeps for one who has been weeping,
king of wine, slave of water
the one who hides in his own wrath
the one who sweats, the one who passes by, the one who
shakes himself within my soul.
The pleasure to arrange a braid of hair
of one who walks to me, the soldier's hair;
one's light, the great; one's greatness to the boy.
I want to iron a handkerchief at one
for the one who cannot weep
and, when I'm sad or when good fortune pains me,
to patch up geniuses and children.
I want to help the good man be a little bad
and have an urge to sit
on the right of the left-handed, answer the dumb,
trying to be useful in what
I can, wanting very much
to wash the cripple's foot,
and help my one-eyed neighbor sleep.
Oh, this love of mine, this world-wide love,
interhuman, parochial, fulfilled!
It comes just right,
from the foundations, from the public groin,
and coming from afar it makes one want to kiss
the singer's scarf,
to kiss the one who suffers, in this roasting-pan,
the dumb, in his deaf cranial murmur, dauntless;
the one who gives me what I had forgotten in my breast,
on his Dante, on his Chaplin, on his shoulders.
To sum up, I should like,
when I am on the famous verge of violence,
or when my heart is brave, I should like
to help the one who smiles to laugh,
place a little bird square on the scruff of a villain's neck,
nurse the sick by provoking them,
buy to kill from the killer — a dreadful thing —
and be at peace within myself
6 November 1937
translated from the Spanish by Gerard Malanga
MALANGA CHASES VALLEJO
Selected Poems of Cesar Vallejo
Three Rooms Press
César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza was a Peruvian poet, writer, playwright, and journalist. Back in 1975 or so I edited and published a small booklet of Gerard's which I'm sure was one of these poems from this fine collection. As Aram Saroyan writes, "This in turn gives the young poet —in his twenties when he did this work—the courage of his convictions, the essential room to breathe."