Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

A number of important themes appear and reappear in Trilce, but the basic subject, the one upon which all others are grounded, is the poet himself. The separate poems that compose Trilce are best understood, at least initially, as statements either about Vallejo or about the human concerns and problems which his own life exemplifies. Vallejo always speaks with a profound urgency; his poems are cries of pain and suffering, voicing his despair upon realizing the meaninglessness of that suffering.

In particular, the Trilce poems locate this pain and suffering in the sheer drabness of everyday life and in the same day-in and day-out drudgery that wearies the speaker of these poems. In some of the poems, the drudgery is urban, as Vallejo concentrates on the intimidation one feels upon arriving in the dehumanizing city. In others (poem XVIII for example), the prison setting intensifies the drabness; the obvious and all-too-real walls that surround him physically enforce the limitations of life.

Occasionally in Trilce, the poet contrasts these scenes of dreariness with his idyllic memories of a pastoral childhood. The paradise he recalls is clearly a forsaken one, however, and while he seems to hope that he can will a return to the past, the poet is always aware of the impossibility of that hope. There is a strong current of remorse and a sense of loss running throughout the poems. The poet speaks of his orphanhood, and this becomes a prominent theme of the book. This orphanhood is experienced most acutely as the poet endures the hostile environments of city and jail. The security of home becomes more and more remote until the poet feels not merely isolated but abandoned, first by family, friends, and lover, and then finally by God. The finality of this abandonment—and the height of his isolation—is understood in poem LXXV, one of Trilce’s central poems. In it, Vallejo experiences an...

(The entire section is 797 words.)