On Monday April 20 1998, I was sitting in a classroom, waiting for my teacher,
my book of Octavio Paz’s poetry on my desk.
Our teacher had asked us to read some of Paz’s poems for class, and I was looking forward to learning more about them and more about the poet and essayist in general.
“You may already have heard this in the news,” my teacher began, “but Octavio Paz passed away yesterday.”
“I thought we could have a moment of silence in his honor,” he continued, “as we are here to explore the beauty of his words and his contribution to literature.”
And so we did.
Today, March 31, is Octavio Paz’s birthday (he would have been 99).
So I thought I would take a moment to honor his words once again.
And perhaps to remind myself of that special moment in a classroom many years ago.
“Entre lo que veo y lo que digo” by Octavio Paz
A Roman Jakobson
Entre lo que veo y digo
entre lo que digo y callo,
entre lo que callo y sueño,
entre lo que sueño y olvido,
entre el sì y el no:
lo que callo,
lo que digo,
lo que olvido.
No es un decir:
es un hacer.
Es un hacer
que es un decir.
se dice y se oye:
Y apenas digo
¿Así es mas real?
va y viene
entre lo que es
y lo que no es.
y los desteje.
siembra ojos en la página,
siembra calabra en los ojos.
Los ojos hablan,
las calabra miran,
las miradas piensan.
lo que decimos,
el cuerpo de la idea.
las palabras se abren.
“Between what I see and what I say”
for Roman Jakobson
Between what I see and what I say,
between what I say and what I keep silent,
between what I keep silent and what I dream,
between what I dream and what I forget:
between yes and no,
what I keep silent,
what I say,
what I forget.
It is not speech:
it is an act
speaks and listens:
it is real.
And as soon as I say
it is real,
Is it then more real ?
comes and goes
between what is
and what is not.
and unweaves reflections.
scatters eyes on a page,
scatters words on our eyes.
what we say,
the body of an idea.
the words open.
(from Arbol Adentro – A Tree Within – translated by Eliot Weinberger; the original poem is formatted differently but, unfortunately, I lost the formatting when I published this post so it’s worth having a look at the original when you get a chance)
There are many great definitions of poetry and this one can be added to that list.
It’s so hard to define poetry. Perhaps the easiest way is through poetry itself?
A beautiful post and a wonderful tribute to OP.
Thanks – I was touched by that moment in the classroom and am always reminded of it when I read Paz’s work now.
Yes, it is obvious that the moment made a deep and lasting impression on you. Isn’t it funny (and nice) how our lives are peppered with such things.
That’s so true 🙂
This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
I know you, so often sitting in a classroom, can appreciate how lovely it was to have this small touching moment in a classroom. I think that’s why it has remained in my memory all this time.
Excellent post! 🙂 Thanks for the poem. To communicate the between and in between what cannot be said in words. Nice!
Thanks! The meaning between the words and somehow through the words 🙂
Thank-you for including the poetic translation. Wow, the words gave me chills. The weaving of poetic lines and the reminder here that there is no correct form to poetry is wonderful – and inspirational to writers such as myself! Happy Easter too xx
I agree, Christy, I think it’s such a beautiful and poetic exploration of what poetry is. Have a wonderful, poetic Easter 🙂
He is my favorite poet! I was very little (about 7 years old) when I saw one of his poems in an invitation, and fell in love, he taught me to love poetry. good post will re-blog it!
How wonderful to have encountered and have fallen in love with his poetry at a young age. A wonderful introduction to the world of poetry!
Reblogged this on the terrain of symmetry and commented:
Feliz cumpleaños a uno de los mejores poetas del mundo. Happy birthday to one of the best poet in the world.
gracias por el re-blog 🙂
I forgot..what a beautiful story Letizia and how wonderful you posted this beautiful tribute.
Thank you, Doris – we’re lucky to still have his beautiful words 🙂
What a beautiful tribute to a great man! 😀 I just love his work…
I’m so glad you liked the post; it was a special moment for me. I always think of the day he died when I read his poems so by writing this post I hope to also be reminded of his birthday now too.
Thank you, Letizia.
Thank YOU for your constant support and encouragement 🙂
I have always had trouble liking poetry, or even understanding it, but I am finding through posts like this one that my appreciation of its many forms is growing. Thank you.
I am so delighted to hear that! You have made my day 🙂
It should be every writer’s dream to leave behind such a beautiful trace.
You are so right, Jilanne. And we are so lucky to have his words!
What a memorable moment… those moments are so unforgettable, and last a life-time..
as does the poetry….
So true, Valerie. One of the reasons I love reading your blog is your ability to find the right words to share your beautiful memories and stories.
What a wonderful comment Letizia – I really value your appreciation, and your blog too….such a sensitive, intelligent corner of our blogging world…
Thank you for your lovely words, good friend.
“…between what I say and what I keep silent…” is rich with possibilities. Thanks for this wonderful post.
You are so right, Marylin. It’s a line that sits with you, that settles into your mind and resurfaces as you go about your day. I keep thinking about it. Thank you for your encouragement 🙂
Beautiful post, Letizia.
Thank you 🙂
“Tell me how you died and I will tell you how you lived.” this is my favorite Octavio Paz quote. As always, thank you, A.
Wonderful! And thank you for your constant support! 🙂
What a gorgeous parade of words.
It was hard to choose which Paz poem to post!
You picked a perfect one.
I’ve been re-reading his essays of late, mainly about Tlatelolco, and am still impressed at the insight and humanity he brings to his understanding of Mexico. He was also the one person in the Mexican government to resign in protest of the actions taken on that fateful night in 1968. But his power as a poet is seen in how he interpreted what happened.
I haven’t read his essays about Tlatelolco (or it’s been so long that I’ve completely forgotten?). I will have to get out his essays and read them again.
He wrote The Other Mexico as a follow-up to the Labyrinth of Solitude shortly after the massacre and used interesting metaphors to explain the situation: pyramids and sacrifices. And always with a deep historical understanding of Mexico. He wrote prose like a poet.
‘prose like a poet’ – you are so right.
Beautiful poem! Love love love it!
I’m so glad you like it too! 🙂
Thanks for share this your’s free verse…the remembrances of a class…reveries…memories…so worth life writing. And thanks for share another affinity. I do appreciate so much Octavio Paz…la otra voz…a voz do homem…y una otra voz…en este que-hacer de la poiesis…do poema…palavras…sons…silêncios…a poem…such as a mirror of words…at some point that a poem does occurs…and a poet write and spell and sing and chant…the words…the phrases of a poem…este real que Octavio apresenta em seus poemas. Aprecio muito o trabalho também como ensaista. And after reading this fairy post I do reread “La otra voz: poesia y fin de siglo”, (1990), a book in his work and oeuvre that is his full expression as essayist, too. Leading me to reread Montaigne, the great essay writer. The poem is real…the poem is voicing words…writing words for chant, la otra voz…voz poética…infinitude in the finite poems. Thanks for share. I appreciate very much your work for art and literature.
I reread Montaigne’s essays this year too. Our literary paths so often cross!
Thank you for your reading and appreciation of ‘one rose, my garden’ post. It’s important for my writer practice. All the best.
I always like reading your work, Walter. It’s great to see a writer at work, in progress.
I forgot how much I love his poetry. . . Thank you for a reminder!
You are most welcome!
Letizia! What a gorgeous poem to come back to. I’ve got many blogs to catch up on now that I am back from my travels and reading this poem was such a pleasure. It reminds me what a source of interest you are, and I am thankful for finding you in this big wide web. I hope you have been well this last month.
Thank you so much for your kind words! I hope your travels were fabulous and inspiring 🙂
Beautiful and thanks for sharing your connection to the poet.
I’m glad you liked it and that the poem touched you as well!
Oh, merci pour ce poème et pour le beau souvenir qui y est attaché.
De rien 🙂 Les poemes de Paz sont si beaux….
A great mexican writer. I ´ve always admired him… You should also check out a long poem by him called “Piedra de Sol” (“Stone of Sun”)… I´m sure you won´t regret it!…
I am now following your blog… Iam looking forward to reading still more, Letizia…
I love that poem too- Thanks for following my blog and leading me to your interesting blog, Aquileana! 🙂