“Language is what makes us human. It is a recourse against the meaningless noise and silence of nature and history.” – Octavio Paz
Octavio Paz Lozano, born this day in Mexico, held the rare distinction of being both a diplomat and a writer – primarily focusing on poetry. For his body of work he won three major awards, beginning with his own country’s Miguel de Cervantes Prize in 1981, then the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1982, and capping it with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990.
At the age of 23, while studying law and politics, Paz first tried his hand at writing, working on the first of his long, ambitious poems, "Between the Stone and the Flower." Influenced by the work of T.S. Eliot, it explores the situation of the Mexican peasant under the domineering landlords of the day. The writing led to his focus in the diplomatic world, but first Paz co-founded a literary journal, Taller ("Workshop") in 1938, and wrote for the magazine until 1941 when he entered the diplomatic corps. That move set the path for the rest of his life, serving his country diplomatically while eloquently and boldly writing about life, the land, and the people around him.
"The poetry of Octavio Paz," wrote the critic Ramon Xirau "does not hesitate between language and silence; it leads into the realm of silence where true language lives."
Here are a couple examples of his work.
Between now and now,
between I am and you are,
the word bridge.
you enter yourself:
the world connects
and closes like a ring.
From one bank to another,
there is always
a body stretched:
I'll sleep beneath its arches.
And a link to, “As One Listens To The Rain.”
Powerful poetic writing at its very best and great examples for all who would write.
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