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Poems from César Vallejo’s Trilce

Victoria Zurita
Published on 
September 14, 2020



The grown-ups

What time will they return?

Blind Santiago rings six o’clock

And it’s so dark already


Mother said she wouldn’t be long.


Aguedita, Nativa, Miguel,

Careful not to go around there, where

They just passed twanging their memories,

Bender sorrows,

Toward the silent corral, and where

Hens are still about to lie down

They’ve been so scared.

Let’s just stay here.

Mother said she wouldn’t be long.


Let’s stop being shy. Let’s go seeing

The boats. Mine is the nicest of them all!

With which we play all the livelong day,

No fights, as it should be;

They are still in the water-well, ready,

Loaded with sweets for tomorrow.


Let’s wait just so, obedient, no other choice

Nor remedy, for the homecoming, the indemnity

Of the grown-ups always ahead

Leaving us home the little ones

As if we, too, weren’t able to leave


Aguedita, Nativa, Miguel?

I call out, feeling my way in the dark

Lest they will have left me alone

And I the only recluse.



I coursed as usual down the veined street

I know by heart. Everything as usual,

really. And I dredged toward things like that,

and was past.


I turned into a street one rarely

walks through in peace, a heroic

exit through the wound of that

raw corner, nothing half-assed.


It’s the magnitudes,

that scream, the light of confrontation,

the crowbar steeped in its function of



When the sockets of the streets are door-sunken,

and preach from barefoot lecterns

the postponement of the salvos in the bell tolls.


Now timekeeping ants

penetrate sugarcoated, half-asleep, barely

willing, hurdles to themselves,

scorched gunpowder—heights, 1921.



I strife to swwwiftly tit for tat.

Her two broad leaves, her valve

that opens in succulent reception

from multiplicand to multiplier,

her condition excellent for pleasure,

everything readied truth.


I strive to swwiftly tit for tat

In her praise, I trounce Bolivarian shrubs

32 cables and its multiples

Rope each other hair by hair

sovereign muzzles, the Works’ two tomes,

and I don’t live the absence then,

                                    not even by touch.


I fail to swiftly dit for dat.

We will never saddle the taurineous drivvel

of selfishness and that mortal rub

of sheets,

Since that woman there

weighs a general’s weight!


And female is the soul of the absent one.

And female is this soul of mine.