Santiago de Chile
January 22, 1950
Cortege and Epinicion
Published by Cruz del Sur
by Hernán Díaz Arrieta (Alone)
Under the prestigious auspices of Cruz del Sur (Southern Cross), a house which does not harbor just anything, an entirely new star is giving off its first, mixed, strange, twinkling but already unmistakable beams.
What is, who is David Rosenmann-Taub?
He will answer us:
I was God and I was walking without knowing it.
You were oh you, my orchard, God and I loved you.
God is of concern to David Rosenmann-Taub, he is irreverently familiar with Him, as the titles announce...God is moving to another house. In a fancy car..., God always has a cold: is he running a fever..." And these poems contain audacious fantasies such as can only be found in those of the Romancero or the mystics.
God is moving to another house. In a fancy car
and with great care he packs all the stars
of the East. Into a sack he tosses the Head Angel:
the china of his apparel rings in a festival.
With this sort of dissonant, prosaic note, beautiful images of a childlike simplicity alternate with features whose symbolism evokes a less somber Claudel.
The clumsy seraphs trip over a curl
of Lucifer's. The choruses lie within the crockery.
And thus between throne and thunder the palace is dismantled.
This could appear in a children's story. Further on, the tone changes, the meaning emerges amidst gibes and a revealing shudder passes through. David Rosenmann-Taub is not at peace before God, in spite of his youthful poise.
Gravity and time are put in a drawer
along with the destiny of the soul and the eyeglasses
of God. The tumultuous ship sets forth
on the waves of chaos toward the new house.
Before pulling out of the gnawed kingdom,
God goes up to the roof terrace to see if by an oversight
he has left something behind: his eyes settle
on the roofless parlors: although he looks at and through
the vacant corridors, he forgets death
and life which flog each other in an endless corner.
And God leaves without seeing them, but he feels a shiver.
It is not a very perceptive reader who is surprised, after this temerity, to find the author [at another point in the book] in "continual ecstasy":
I follow and pursue the divine flame.
I always drown in divine water.
Blind I am blinded by divine summit...
Or is even surprised to hear the author whisper, repentant, a prayer (vaguely comparable to the very famous sonnet of Sánchez Mazas):
Thus stretched as you have asked,
on my knees, the dazzling visions,
and with grieving hands,
slighter than a split bird,
in my ample promised repose
from when I fed the soaked
slave joists, until your swords
sliced my arid heartbeat,
in my final bed here you have me.
I do not know if you will come and I fear
that you may not come to my poor temples
to take this your vineyard's fire
that I have sustained on earth:
right away, I want your summons right away.
This religious cry is among the true novelties that David Rosenmann-Taub brings to the new poetry of Chile. The young people of the Nerudian period were going on another path and these visions did not assail them. Could it be that a pioneer has appeared, someone capable of shaking the routine pattern not just of the last twenty or thirty years but also of yesterday and of the day before?
It would be the best news of the year.
Another surprising, unexpected feature among the lyrical raptures: the humorous note. We do not know whether the poet wanted to conjure it up, whether or not the intention was to produce laughter – something which inhibits many people from laughing, because they don't dare go against explicit or implicit intentions of a work. The important fact for us is that rarely has a "violent and unexpected contrast" had a greater comic effect than the final adjective of the final line of this stanza:
In diapers of moss, my darling,
I will wrap you. Go sleepy bye, my sweet child.
I will wrap you well, son,
with emeralds and alabaster halos,
and I will cover your little hands, my darling,
with lovely worms.
Go sleepy bye, my child, rotting child.
Naturally there exists an explanation, and anyone who notices the subtitle "Funerals" and continues to read the rest of the piece will find it. The poet is sarcastically referring to a dead child. Others will be moved by it: this means that these are stanzas with a double effect. All the more richness.
But in fact the new author does not need more; his Cortejo y Epinicio stands out precisely because of the variety of tones, the profusion of meters, of rhythms and rhymes (he doesn't scorn either) – and the ease with which he handles his delicate instruments. You feel that you are in the middle of a jungle, in the good company of invisible voices – modern, classical, archaic and revolutionary – always in lush foliage and deep terrain.
Thus is originality created.
One example of the originality that distinguishes Rosenmann-Taub: the unrelenting intensity, the vehement vigor, and the ability to elevate and poeticize even the most prosaic themes, as in "Echaurren, sleepy street..." [Poem LIX]. Another example, which we will mention in conclusion, is certainly not the least: the strictly secondary place he gives to the domineering libido, to demanding and obsessive eroticism. The opening line of a love poem (which has some connection with Más ["More"] by Magallanes Moure) explains why: In "In the Sensual Lava" (which flows burning) the line "Your body is not enough: I desire your desire" [Poem LXV] expresses in a different form the same idea, the appetite for "something more."
May the author pursue this "something more," and find it: he will also have succeeded in fulfilling the yearning of many readers.