Octavio Paz is an another representative of the Latin American poets.
He was born in Mexico City in 1914 to a family of Spanish and native Mexican descent and was educated at the National University of Mexico in law and literature. Under the encouragement of Pablo Neruda, Paz began his poetic career in his teens by founding an avant-garde literary magazine, Barandal, and publishing his first book of poems, Luna silvestre(1933). In his youth, Paz spent time in the United States and Spain, where he was influenced by the modernist and surrealist movements. His sequence of prose poems, Aguila o sol? (Eagle or Sun?, 1951) is a visionary mapping of Mexico, its past, present, and future, and Piedra de Sol (Sun Stone, 1957) borrows its structure from the Aztec calendar. This long poem, and Paz’s sociocultural analysis of Mexico, El laberinto de la soledad (The Labyrinth of Solitude, 1950), established him as a major literary figure in the 1950s. In 1962, he became Mexico’s ambassador to India and resigned six years later in protest when government forces massacred student demonstrators in Mexico City.
His later work shows an ever-deepening intelligence and complexity as it investigates the intersection of philosophy, religion, art, politics, and the role of the individual. “Wouldn’t it be better to turn life into poetry rather than to make poetry from life,” Paz asks. “And cannot poetry have as its primary objective, rather than the creation of poems, the creation of poetic moments?” His various collections of essays engage culture, linguistics, literary theory, history, and politics with a level of originality and erudition that is unrivaled; these and his poems form a breadth of work that expresses, in the words of Carlos Fuentes, “the existence of a plurality of possibilities for harmony and truth, outside the limited range of our inherited dogmas.” He was awarded the Cervantes Award in 1981, the Neustadt Prize in 1982, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990. Paz died in 1998.
And now that you are acquaint with Paz’s biography let me show you one of my favourite poems:
I am a man: little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.
If you liked it, here’s another one:
No More Clichés
That like a daisy opens its petals to the sun
So do you
Open your face to me as I turn the page.
Any man would be under your spell,
Oh, beauty of a magazine.
How many poems have been written to you?
How many Dantes have written to you, Beatrice?
To your obsessive illusion
To you manufacture fantasy.
But today I won’t make one more Cliché
And write this poem to you.
No, no more clichés.
This poem is dedicated to those women
Whose beauty is in their charm,
In their intelligence,
In their character,
Not on their fabricated looks.
This poem is to you women,
That like a Shahrazade wake up
Everyday with a new story to tell,
A story that sings for change
That hopes for battles:
Battles for the love of the united flesh
Battles for passions aroused by a new day
Battle for the neglected rights
Or just battles to survive one more night.
Yes, to you women in a world of pain
To you, bright star in this ever-spending universe
To you, fighter of a thousand-and-one fights
To you, friend of my heart.
From now on, my head won’t look down to a magazine
Rather, it will contemplate the night
And its bright stars,
And so, no more clichés.