“The Nine Monsters” is a seventy-line poem, divided into four stanzas of varying lengths. The poem is written loosely in the form of an address, perhaps a speech, in which the poet discourses on the subjects of pain and misfortune to an audience of “human men” and “brother men.” It would appear that the poem begins somewhere in the middle of the speech, since the opening line of the poem implies continued speech.
After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, César Vallejo was active as a vocal defender of the Spanish Republic. In Paris, where he had lived since 1923, he attended meetings and assemblies and helped in the effort to raise money for the Republican cause. While autobiographical information is not necessary to study “The Nine Monsters,” it is helpful to know that at the time Vallejo wrote the poem (it is dated November 3, 1937), he was out canvassing the streets and speaking to crowds about the war. The speechlike nature of the poem is more apparent in this context.
In the first stanza, the poet or speaker notes the rapid and ceaseless spread of pain in the world. Pain has become the dominant fact of life, so much so that those who suffer are virtually martyrs to it. Pain is so great that it constantly redoubles itself.
The speaker then turns his attention, in the second stanza, to the historical moment. It is the age of pain, he says. There has never been a time more vulnerable to its...
(The entire section is 506 words.)