Corporeality in Early Twentieth-Century Latin American by Bruce Dean Willis (auth.)

By Bruce Dean Willis (auth.)

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From the rainbow to the piano-bench ass of the lady next door / Enough poetry bambina enough lady” (71)]. Poetry is exhaustive and even vulgar; once more a corporeal allusion, the appropriately ribald “culo” [ass], pejoratively associates body and language. The extended simile that immediately follows this section is a further example of exhaustion, devised by the poet to show the limitations of poetic possibilities:31 “Sabemos posar un beso como una mirada / Plantar miradas como árboles / Enjaular árboles como pájaros” (70) [“We already know how to dart a kiss like a glance / Plant glances like trees / Cage trees like birds” (71)].

It is a dirty, degraded world, full of rough and objectified sexuality]. Girondo’s poetic voice reacts to this absurdity by escaping from itself. Significantly, the escape from ontology does not involve corporeal fracture but rather corporeal duplication— desdoblamiento or Spaltung. Dante Carignano, in his study of both fracture and alterity in Espantapájaros [Scarecrow], notes Girondo’s tendency, among Spanish American vanguard poets, to recognize a multiplicity of beings in the poetic voice: “La alteridad múltiple rechaza la imagen homogénea del sujeto, su continuidad sin fisuras, su estable racionalidad” (Carignano 159) [Multiple alterity rejects the homogeneous image of the subject, its seamless continuity, its stable rationality].

Another strategy employed periodically by the poetic voice, to play against the downward trajectory of Altazor, is the inclusion of uplifting musical interludes, little compositions that stall the grand decomposition. The best known of these is the nightingale scale, the “rodoñol, rorreñol” (90) [“nightdongale, nightrengale” (91, my emphasis)] up through mi, fa, sol, la, and si. 40 Cellos, violins, pianos, arpeggios, and other musical images and terms abound in the poem, further supporting a reading of the text as arrangement in the sense of a new rendition of an already established melody.

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