“The Anti-Lazarus” is an “antipoem” composed of forty-seven free-verse lines divided nonsystematically into eleven stanzas. Its title is a compound word that encloses references both to the Western cultural heritage and to Nicanor Parra’s own innovative artistic ideals. It points, on the one hand, to the biblical figure of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha who was raised from the dead at Jesus’ command (John 11:1-44). In this sense, it refers to the miracle of resurrection, one of the most important miracles within the Christian tradition. On the other hand, the use of the prefix “anti” refers to the concept of the antipoem, implying a conscious attempt at breaking with traditional lyric forms and constituting Parra’s most significant contribution to contemporary poetics.
The speaker of the poem is addressing an absent interlocutor. Under the guise of an impossible and thwarting telephone call, the poetic voice speaks to an anonymous deceased poet, trying to dissuade him from rising from the dead. The poet reminds his addressee of the many negative aspects of earthly life—the daily routine, human needs and anxieties, the increasing loss of tolerance when facing setbacks, and the vacuity of literature. As a counterweight to all of these, he notes the many positive aspects that the dead man’s present condition has to offer: the happiness of being a corpse, which assures absolute independence and peace, and the perfect communion...
(The entire section is 493 words.)