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Santiago de Chile

Poetry of David Rosenmann-Taub:
Cortege and Epinicion, The Sky in the Fountain,
The Spoils of the Sun

Published by Esteoeste

by Pepys


David Rosenmann-Taub stands out like a surprising eminence. In the fifties, in our country, his name aroused public expectation. In those days, culture was culture. There was, let's say, an excellent literary culture. In the street, simple people spoke with original metaphors. The code of the common language, however, was not interrupted. On the contrary, it flowed like spring. Ah, those years! Well, around that time the first book by David Rosenmann-Taub appeared: Cortejo y Epinicio (Cortege and Epinicion). A beautiful edition. A strange title. About "cortege" we know everything or almost everything. In essence: "people who form the retinue at a ceremony." But about "epinicion"? Nothing. Almost nothing. One had to resort to the dictionary: "song of victory; triumphal hymn."

So that we had in front of us something more than the triumphal ceremony of a new poet; we were witnessing a kind of changing of the guard in the traditionally Spain-oriented, modernist, Ruben-Darian regime of our poetry.

Rosenmann-Taub, for all that, did not allow himself to get easily wrapped up in the early flattery of fame, being a sensitive temperament to a high degree, refined by inner non-conformity, a mordant critic of the world around him, and a master of anti-stupidity.

Solitude, in the end, constitutes the cortege of the elect. In what coin is paid the epinicion of solitude?

It is not easy, here, among us, to write what follows without paying a heavy price for the public's lack of comprehension:

Nausea. The firefly
– basalt, perfection –
laughs with its brand-new wingspan:
steely. (The broom
suborns me.) I kneel. Laziness
that does not beg for useless meanings.

        [Cortege and Epinicion, second edition: Poem XLI]

But, also, in compensation, the same pen also writes:

I have just died: for the earth
I am a newborn.

        [Cortege and Epinicion, second edition: Poem XVII, "Genetrix"]

Solitude is followed by silence. Silence, by suffering, the sieve of life. Further on, the trips, the distance, the withdrawal from the roots.

Sad, fickle, inhospitable earth is quick to scorn.

Like Spinoza among his optical devices, David Rosenmann-Taub dwells in some unnamed place among his poetical devices: words.

Two books masterfully published rescue him as the preserve of a few select readers: Los Despojos del Sol (The Spoils of the Sun) and El Cielo en la Fuente (The Sky in the Fountain).

In his essay, On Difficulty, George Steiner notes: "The poet, frequently, is a neologist, a goldsmith who recombines words: what soft instrument did Mandelstam have in mind when he invoked the music of the tormenvox? Writers are passionate resurrectors of buried or ghostly words..."

In El Cielo en la Fuente are these combinations of words:

The rose toward the rose: the ardors
undulate and succumb.
Like mine before me, Jesusa
in another heart.

Won't she seek rest?
On a page of sand and fear
she reads her name. Bundles the dominions.
There will be walls, but not very high.
[The Sky in the Fountain: Poem XVII]

David Rosenmann-Taub knows why he says what he says. He is a goldsmith, a neologist, a recombiner of words.

In poor villages, there is still the belief that the goldsmith is an alchemist. And that the devil is behind alchemists. The villagers fear them, as having lost the thread of logical discourse. They do not realize what they are losing: the world's other form of reason.