“The Distant Footsteps” is a short poem of twenty lines divided into four stanzas. The first and third stanzas are quatrains; the second and fourth stanzas are sestets. The poem is in free verse, a fact of some significance since many of the poems in César Vallejo’s first volume (in which this poem appears) are written in traditional, rhymed forms. By the end of the volume, Vallejo was working in free verse and moving toward the revolutionary techniques of his later poetry (see, for example, Trilce, 1922).
The title establishes the themes of departure and separation that are so important to this poem and Vallejo’s early work. A central obsession for Vallejo was the anguish associated with the trauma of leaving home for the capital, Lima, when he was a young man. Lost in the city, he longs for the home he has left behind. He also experiences some guilt at having abandoned that home.
Vallejo, a poet of personal experience and intense self-reflection, frequently uses the first person, as in this poem. The emphasis, then, is on giving voice to personal reflections about family relationships. The poet begins by observing his father, who is sleeping peacefully and gently. It is afternoon. The poet can find no bitterness in his father’s appearance, but he does not discount the possibility that somewhere inside the father may harbor some bitterness. Curiously, and significantly, the poet believes that the father’s bitterness, if...
(The entire section is 533 words.)