Poetry / Translation

Two Poems by Cesar Vallejo

Poems by Cesar Vallejo
Translated by Patrick Meighan

Our Bread

One drinks breakfast … Damp graveyard earth

smells of beloved blood.

Winter city … Mordant crusade

of a cart that seems to drag

an emotion like a fasting in chains.

One wants to pound all the doors

and ask for, I don’t know whom; and next

to see the poor, and softly crying

give bits of bread to all.

And to sack the vineyards of the rich

with the two saintly hands

that with a blast of light

blew off unnailed from the Cross!

Matinal eyelash don’t rise!

Give us our daily bread,

Lord …!

All my bones are of all others;

Maybe I stole them!

I took for myself what was perhaps

given another;

and I thought that, if I had not been born,

some other poor soul would have this coffee!

I am a bad thief … where will I go!

And in this cold hour, when the earth

smells of human dust and is in this gloom,

I want to rap on all the doors,

and beg, I don’t know who, for pardon,

and bake him fresh bits of bread

here, in the oven of my heart …!


If it rains tonight I’d pull back

From here a million years,

Better a hundred, no more than that.

If it happens I am fleeing toward nothing

I will still give you the account.

Or without mother, without my beloved, without quarrel

To stoop and inspect the end of it, purely myself


That night, much like this one, carding

The Vedic fiber

The ancient Hindu wool of my final end, thread

Of the devil, a trace of its scent

In the nostrils,

Two clappers keeping discordant time

In the same bell.

I imagine the account of my life

Or I imagine having never been born

Nor having won my freedom.

It will be as if I had not even existed, but

What arrives already has departed,

What arrives already has departed.

Patrick Meighan teaches a poetry workshop at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire. His poems have appeared in various online and print journals, including Inflectionist Review, Flash!Point, Wilderness House Literary Review, Alexandria Quarterly Magazine, and others. He co-edited “Images from Ruin,” an anthology of 9/11 poems, and his chapbook “Jurisprudence” was published in 2014. Patrick received his MFA in poetry from the low-residency program at New England College.

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