Under the Poplars
for José Eulogio Garrido
Like priestly imprisoned poets,
the poplars of blood have fallen asleep.
On the hills, the flocks of Bethlehem
chew arias of grass at sunset.
The ancient shepherd, who shivers
at the last martyrdoms of light,
in his Easter eyes has caught
a purebred flock of stars.
Formed in orphanhood, he goes down
with rumors of burial to the praying field,
and the sheep bells are seasoned with shadow.
It survives, the blue warped
in iron, and on it, pupils shrouded,
a dog etches its pastoral howl.
César Vallejo, 1892–1938
© 1919 César Vallejo
“Under the Poplars” from The Black Heralds
Translation by Rebecca Seiferle (2003)
Photo by Lucas van Oort on Unsplash