Vincente Huidobro

The Poet is a Little God 
translated from the Spanish by Jorge García-Gómez

ISBN 0-893370-945-X (paper)
xxxii, 182 pages, $15

A bilingual edition of three small books of poetry, El espejo de agua, Poemas arcticos and Ecuatorial, plus a lecture on poetry, by the famous avant-garde Chilean poet. Introduction by Gary Kern.

Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948) wanted to be different. Below read a few poems and a portion of an early article indicating his point of departure:


Excerpts from The Poet Is A Little God

Arte poética

Que el verso sea somo una llave
Que abra mil puertas.
Una hoja cae; algo pasa volando;
Cuanto miren los ojos creado sea,
Y el alma del oyente quede temblando.

Inventa mundos nuevos y cuida tu palabra;
El adjetivo, cuando no da vida, mata.

Estamos en el ciclo de los nervios.
El músculo cuelga,
Como recuerdo, en los museos;
Mas no por eso tenemos menos fuerza:
El vigor verdadero
Reside en la cabeza

Por qué cantáis la rosa, ¡oh, Poetas!
Hacedla florecer en el poema;

Sólo para nosotros
Viven todas las cosas bajo el Sol.

El Poeta es un pequeño Dios.

Ars Poetica

Let the verse be as a key
Opening a thousand doors.
A leaf falls; something is flying by;
Let whatever your eyes gaze upon be created,
And the soul of the hearer remain shivering.

Invent new worlds and watch over your word;
The adjective, when not a life-giver, kills.

We are in the cycle of nerves.
Like a memory
The muscle hangs in the museums;
Nevertheless, we have no less strength:
True vigor
Dwells in the head.

Why do you sing the rose, oh Poets!
Make it blossom in the poem;

Only for us
Live all things under the Sun.

The Poet is a little God.


El espejo de agua

Mi espejo, corriente por las noches,
Se hace arroyo y se aleja de mi cuarto.

Mi espejo, más profundo que el orbe
Donde todos los cisnes se ahogaron.

Es un estanque verde en la muralla
Y en medio duerme tu desnudez anclada.

Sobre sus olas, bajo cielos sonámbulos,
Mis ensueños se alejan como barcos

De pie en la popa siempre me veréis cantando.
Una rosa secreta se hincha en mi pecho
Y un ruiseñor ebrio aletea en mi dedo.

The Water Mirror

My mirror, a current in the nights,
Becomes a brook and leaves my room.

My mirror, deeper than the orb
Where all the swans have drowned.

It is a green pool in the rampart
Your fixed nakedness sleeps in its midst.

Over its waves, beneath somnambulant skies,
My dreams draw away as ships.

Standing astern you will always see me singing.
A secret rose is swelling in my breast
And a drunken nightingale flutters on my finger.


Non Serviam

One fine morning, after a night of beautiful dreams and exquisite nightmares, the poet got up and shouted at Mother Nature: Non serviam. With the full force of his lungs, an echo, both translator and optimist, repeated in the distance: "I will not serve you." Mother Nature was about to remonstrate with the young rebel poet when he, whipping off his sombrero and making a gracious gesture, exclaimed: "You are an old enchantress." This non serviam was recorded in a morning of world history. It was not a capricious shout nor a superficial act of rebellion. It was the result of an entire evolution, the sum of multiple experiences. The poet in the full consciousness of his past and future flung at the world his declaration of independence from Nature. He no longer wanted to serve it in the capacity of slave. The poet said to his brothers: "Up to now we have done nothing but imitate the world in its aspects, we have created nothing..." Non serviam. I do not have to be your slave, Mother Nature; I shall be your master... I shall have my trees which will not be like yours, I shall have my mountains, I shall have my rivers, I shall have my sky and my stars. And you will not be able to tell me: "This tree is bad, I don't like that sky... mine are better." I would reply to you that my skies and my trees are my own and not yours and they don't have to look like each other... Adiós, old enchantress; adiós, Mother and Stepmother, I shall not detest you nor curse you for the years of slavery in your service. They were the most precious instruction. All I desire is not to forget your lessons, but now I am at an age when I can walk alone through these worlds. Through your world and mine.


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