PRINT December 1989

Cristina Iglésias

By José; Lezama Limo, Barcelona: Versa! S.A., 1989, 301 pp., 1800 pts.

Throughout his life, the Cuban poet José Lezama Lima (1910–76) wrote essays, some of which have been collected in this volume under the title La dignidad de la poesía (The dignity of poetry). Reading Lima, one is immersed in a maze of meanings. If one fails to “understand” his poetry, or any of the keys it hides, one can still be a good listener. He speaks of an infinity in which distance becomes creative, of man’s nostalgia for a lost measure. He speaks of the momentary credulous wonder poetry inspires in us.

He speaks of the poem’s temporal duration, and of how poetry, “newly arrived at the spring of meaning, [discovers] misinterpretation beating against the progression of its flow.” He speaks of the impossible believable. He speaks of his inspirational sources, of the authors he admired—Góngora, Mallarmé, Rimbaud. . . . He speaks of poetic growth, of possible imagery, of imaginary eras. He speaks of the dignity of poetry.

—Cristina Iglésias

Translated from the Spanish by Oscar Agüera.