Santiago de Chile
December 6, 2004

Composer and poet: Rosenmann-Taub,
the living myth of Chilean poetry

by Maureen Lennon Zaninovic

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Settled in the United States, the creator returns to the literary arena with El Cielo en la Fuente/La Mañana Eterna and País Más Allá.

Legend and genius are the terms most often used to define David Rosenmann-Taub (b. 1927).

Armando Uribe, winner of the Chilean National Prize for Literature in 2004, praises him as “the most important and profound poet of the entire Spanish language.”

Francis de Miomandre, one of the most prestigious French critics, is no less stinting in his praise: “I see nobody, not even among us in France, who dares to approach poetic expression with as much heartrending violence as David Rosenmann-Taub.”

His biographers emphasize the genius of this child born in Santiago of Polish parents. He learned to read at the age of one and a half. His mother, the pianist Dora Taub, taught him to play the instrument at two, and at three he began to write his first poems.

His studies in Spanish at the Pedagogical Institute of the University of Chile (he graduated in 1948) and his courses in astronomy, music, English, French, Portuguese, aesthetics, and physics bear witness to his inquiring mind.

Since 1985 he has lived in the United States, and since 2000, Corda, a non-profit foundation, has been conserving and disseminating his prolific poetic and musical creations.

In Chile, the publisher LOM has undertaken to keep his literary legacy current and available. This house has just released El Cielo en la Fuente/La Mañana Eterna and País Más Allá,without the presence of their author, who, maintaining his enigmatic and legendary character, tends to be rather elusive. So much so, that he restricts his interviews to one or two a year.

From the United States, David Rosenmann-Taub relates that he still stays in touch with Armando Uribe Arce and Luis Merino Reyes, “both honorable people, whose writings show a fresh atmosphere and mental cleanness.”

In your poetry, a feature very present is the heart…

“Just as the brain is the center of the nervous system (the repository of consciousness and of the consciousness of consciousness), the heart is the center of vitality. It’s a matter of an agreement between corporeality and consciousness. In El Cielo en la Fuente the heart and its beating have many levels.”

What role does youth play in your work?

“The energy of senility on our planet is huge. To accept received ideas without true knowledge is one of the most common manifestations of mental senility. Prejudices play a horrifying part in increasing this senility. Youth is to think with clarity. Obviously, the function of thinking is to know. It’s not enough for the universe to happen, it wants to know itself. It’s not enough for the sky to be the sky, it wants to be reflected. And it’s not enough for the fountain to be a fountain, it wants to reflect.

“I have tried to express in a duality what perennial youth is, and how to conserve it throughout all the stages of life. Youth (an open mind, curiosity, and inner health) has nothing to do with age. This is very obvious in real artists: they keep on getting younger. The final works of Beethoven, of Rembrandt, reveal an enormous youth. Rembrandt does self-portraits: is there anything more youthful than the force of his awareness of his old age?”

Why País Más Allá?

“I have been writing this book all my life. In it, my childhood is merged with that of my parents and my grandparents. One of the levels that I develop is the constant responsibility of the true adulthood of being a child. What is the reason for growing? What is the reason for remembering? The awareness of the awakening when, already not forming a part of here, we set off towards the childhood of there.

“With this book, I wanted to satisfy something that I never found in my experience of poetry as a reader; that is to say, the challenge is to go beyond.”