The great Mexican poet and writer Octavio Paz, also biographer of the seventeenth century Spanish/Mexican poet Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, a number of whose poems have been included on this blog, here writes a poem of universal appeal and resonance. There is a bit of a similarity in theme with Dionisio Martinez’s poem, Moto Perpetuo, posted here on July 16th 2016. Both poems refer to those moments of stillness in between the onward march of time, in the case of Martinez, these moments of stillness allow co-creation of a work of art between the artist and the onlooker or listener, but im the case of Paz, the experience generalises to any moment when time seems to stand still. I like to think Einstein would have connected with both poems.
Entre Irse y Quedarse
Entre irse y quedarse duda el día,
enamorado de su transparencia.
La tarde circular es ya bahía:
en su quieto vaivén se mece el mundo.
Todo es visible y todo es elusivo,
todo está cerca y todo es intocable.
Los papeles, el libro, el vaso, el lápiz
reposan a la sombra de sus nombres.
Latir del tiempo que en mi sien repite
la misma terca sílaba de sangre.
La luz hace del muro indiferente
un espectral teatro de reflejos.
En el centro de un ojo me descubro;
no me mira, me miro en su mirada.
Se disipa el instante. Sin moverme,
yo me quedo y me voy: soy una pausa.
It seems we are at twilight, when the sun is going down, and the poet can’t tell whether or not the day is ending. The magical quality of the light enchants the poet and causes him to stop the clocks, to hit the pause button on the passage of time, to just step into the moment and stay there. He is conscious of the paradox of tangibility and intangibility of the objects around him, the simultaneous existence of movement and stillness, and the heightened awareness of his own heart beating while all around is as if in suspended animation.
At the end of the poem, what happens next remains unresolved, the moment seems to fade away, but the poet is now completely captivated by the pause in time. Like the ambiguity at the beginning of the poem between day and evening, now it is the poet who remains frozen in time, in the moment. All else is suspended.
The Poetry Dude