BETWEEN GOING AND STAYING
by Octavio Paz
Between going and staying the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.
All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.
Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.
Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.
The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.
I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.
The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I am a pause.
Octavio Paz (1914-1998) was a Mexican writer, poet, and diplomat. Under the encouragement of Pablo Neruda, Paz began his poetic career in his teens by founding an avant-garde literary magazine, Barandal, and publishing his first book of poems, Luna Silvestre (1933). In 1962, Paz became Mexico’s ambassador to India and resigned six years later in protest when government forces massacred student demonstrators in Mexico City. Paz was awarded the Cervantes Award in 1981, the Neustadt Prize in 1982, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990.
Editor’s Note: This post is both in line with my love for great Spanish poets and with an ongoing discussion here on As It Ought To Be of the role of artists in politics. In a time of great turmoil – the new racist police state law in Arizona, the BP oil catastrophe, and Israel’s attack on those trying to aid occupied Palestine, to name a few – we as artists have a responsibility to use our voices for the greater good. May Octavio Paz serve as an inspiration to do so.
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