Me destierro a la memoria

Today’s poem is from the early twentieth century poet-philosopher, Miguel de Unamuno. It seems to be a reflection on achieving immortality through poetry and its effect on the reader, but there is, at least for me, considerable ambiguity in the poet’s attitude to this. The notion of posterity keeping alive the poet’s name, fame and reputation is tempered by bleaker references to sickness, death and the barren wastelands of history.

See what you think.
Me destierro a la memoria,
voy a vivir del recuerdo.
Buscadme, si me os pierdo,
en el yermo de la historia,

que es enfermedad la vida
y muero viviendo enfermo.
Me voy, pues, me voy al yermo
donde la muerte me olvida.

Y os llevo conmigo, hermanos,
para poblar mi desierto.
Cuando me creáis más muerto
retemblaré en vuestras manos.

Aquí os dejo mi alma-libro,
hombre-mundo verdadero.
Cuando vibres todo entero,
soy yo, lector, que en ti vibro.

From <;

The first two lines express a wish to live on in people’s memory, setting the tone for the fairly conventional artists desire for immortality achieved through artistic reputation. But the remainder of the first two stanzas talk of the poet becoming fused with the wastelands of history – life is full of sickness and death and the poet expresses a somewhat nihilistic wish to lose himself in a barren, uninhabited dead zone.

In the final two stanzas, the poet invites his readers to accompany him into that deserted, desolate place, where he or his poetry will live on, bringing positive vibrations to the place and to his readers. So it is not the survival of his name and art in the real world which is evoked here, it is the poet wanting his readers to join him in the twilight zone beyond which will ensure his immortality. This is, and is probably intended to be, a somewhat creepy twist to the more conventional artist’s aspiration for a place in history.

The Poetry Dude

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