Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Including a series of prose poems elsewhere titled Poemas en prosa (Prose Poems) and a riveting fifteen-poem sequence about the Spanish Civil War titled España, aparta de mí este cáliz (Spain, Take This Cup from Me), the poetry in Human Poems is more overtly political than in either of Vallejo’s previous collections. Consequently, Human Poems offers a new and significant form of political poetry. More specifically, this is achieved through his intimate fusion of private hope, fear, and apprehension with a flurry of feverish public ideology, large-scale death by warfare, and the biopoliticization of the body. Furthermore, Human Poems starkly and meticulously explores the perils of capitalistic cosmopolitanism, and this situates Vallejo thematically amid many contemporaneous modernist artists regardless of genre.
Thus Human Poems simultaneously individuates Vallejo for his poetic ingenuity while conjoining him to his contemporaries in the arts and politics. As a result, the book paradoxically positions Vallejo as both a timeless iconoclast and a representative of his times; he is a pioneering explorer of Otherness as both a specific historical contingency and an a priori ontological condition. In other words, while his poetry most often pivots emotionally upon notions of suffering, it derives from the incommensurate divide between self and Other, both in time and place and...
(The entire section is 284 words.)
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