(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

In Sun Stone, the poet searches for the experience of the poetic moment through making love. The quest is framed by a structure modeled after the Aztec sun stone, a calendar divided into 584 days. The poem is composed of 584 lines and opens and closes with the same six lines. Setting the tone for the entire poem, these six lines invoke a world free of alienation, a paradise outside of time. Sun Stone rushes forward without any breaks, leading to an ending that returns the reader to the beginning. Even as the calendar is round, time is cyclical. The protagonist’s experience is also repetitive, alternating between ecstasy and alienation.

The opening lines of Sun Stone point to a reality outside the passage of time where opposites are united. The poet describes a river flowing backward and forward, always returning to the same point. On its bank is a tree at once firmly rooted and dancing.

Alienation intrudes. The protagonist becomes disoriented and confused in the urban landscape. He cannot even remember his name. He is confronted with the horrors of history: bombings, concentration camps, and assassinations. He recalls Socrates’ death, the assassination of Julius Caesar, the betrayal of Montezuma, the murder of Leon Trotsky in Mexico. Yet in Madrid, in 1937, in the midst of the Spanish Civil War, the protagonist manages to overcome the atrocities of history through love. Love brings human beings to a timeless...

(The entire section is 497 words.)