Paz may be America's favorite Spanish-language poet; and there are reasons. His work is almost bone clean. The full text of...

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A DRAFT OF SHADOWS AND OTHER POEMS

Paz may be America's favorite Spanish-language poet; and there are reasons. His work is almost bone clean. The full text of ""In the Lodi Gardens"" goes: ""The black, pensive, dense/ Domes of the mausoleums/ Suddenly shot birds/ Into the unanimous blue."" Living in India as the Mexican Ambassador, Paz would appear to have an inside knowledge about not one but two cultural mysteries. The poems he makes from these are amulets, sort of, incised and polished: ""I am surrounded by city/ I lack air/ lack body/ lack/ the stone that is pillow and slab/ grass that is cloud and water."" His responses to other arts--poems cognate to the work of Robert Motherwell and Joseph Cornell--bespeak an international modernity. Yet hardly any of his poetry, intellectually deft as it may be (""What remains is/ time as portioned body: language""), upsets or challenges the reader. Rage, in the poem ""The petrifying petrified,"" (probably impossible to translate, though Weinberger gives it a creditable go), leads to tonguetieing: ""tensebrow/ greendry bloodsnot/ Rage nailed in a word/ ragerazor gazeblade/ on a land of tines and spines."" Paz is better when he adds-on than when he distills (see the title poem, an autobiographical/mystical rapture), but his distillation is his soul's natural process. We want Paz to be a major poet, and seem to have succeeded in inflating his reputation.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1979

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: New Directions

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1979