Song for His Disappeared Love
This volume of work by Chilean poet Raúl Zurita has several innovative features: the book is magazine sized; when opened from the back, one can read the poems in the original Spanish; when opened from the front, the English translation is prefaced by a terrific, lengthy introduction by translator Daniel Borzutzky, who lends context to the work and Zurita himself. Zurita was arrested by the Chilean government and persecuted for being a possibly "suspicious" poet, and his first volume of poems was tossed into the sea. During the dictatorship, bodies were dropped from planes into rivers, the sea, and the Andes. This haunting image makes an appearance throughout Song for His Disappeared Love, poignantly in the repeated refrain:
All my love is here and it has stayed: Stuck to the rocks, to the sea and the mountains Stuck, stuck, to the rocks the sea and the mountains.
Though political conditions prompted Zurita to respond "with a poetry that is just as powerful as the pain being delivered by the state," Borzutzky is quick to point out that the poem is, indeed, a love song and the anger of the work is well matched by a sense of generosity.
The Internationale of the dead countries grew larger, ascending, and I gave it my love. I gave it all my country love and I added all my cries and then the General of the dead countries called. That's how I bled the wound and as it gushed red the song to their disappeared love started. All the letters were opening up like graves, the scream the country said no it didn't hurt.
This book review originally appeared in American Poets.