Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Stumble Between Two Stars” expresses the sense of alienation and despair that distinguishes much of the great literature that came out of the Paris literary scene of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Vallejo spent the last fifteen years of his life (1923-1938) in Paris. Vallejo, however, lived a poverty-stricken, bohemian life, moving from hotel to hotel. His experience with poverty and his association with Marxist groups influenced his poetry. Thus, Vallejo, perhaps more than any other artist in Paris, was sensitive to the degradation of human life and the trauma of living a meaningless and gratuitous life on the fringe of society. Vallejo is truly the poet of the Lumpenproletariat.

His wretched people—and Vallejo includes himself among this group—are doomed from birth. These people are born in sarcophagi; they constantly suffer; they do not even have the recourse of language, for their alphabet is frozen. Although Vallejo seems to suggest initially that this wretched multitude is condemned to its own Dantesque circle of the Inferno, his incantation of pity for them does offer the hope of something better—purgatory at least, if not paradise. By calling them “beloved,” Vallejo offers his own blessing and holds out some measure of hope, however small, for his fallen, weeping fellow wretches. The poet’s litany calls to mind the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes that Jesus recites in Matthew. It also brings to mind the chantlike tone...

(The entire section is 554 words.)