—London Review of Books
The question of who or what writes a poem, which agency creates which pieces, even if none of the players is exactly automatic, takes us a long way into Paz’s work, handsomely represented in this new collection.
[Paz] believed in poetry’s ability to cleanse our perception, free us from clichés of the mind and the body, and intensify experience.
Readers will marvel at Paz’s variety: haiku-like miniatures; the tempestuous book-length poem ‘Sunstone’; fast-moving prose poems; abstract odes; extended descriptions of places in Mexico, India, Afghanistan, and Japan.
The pleasure of this volume is the consistent, almost gentle voice that lays out for the reader Paz’s convictions and questions. ‘Gentle’ though should not indicate easy of peaceful or unquestioning. Paz raises his anxieties, doubts, and disruptions. Rather it is the artfulness with which he does so that carries the reader along.
That rarity, an authoritative translation that should get sustained U.S. attention, and that often sounds right read aloud.
Paz’s poetry is a seismograph of our country’s turbulence, a crossroads where East meets West.
‘To possess truth in one soul and body.’ Rimbaud’s ideal might also he said to lie behind the post-Christian, post-Nietzschean poetry of Octavio Paz, with its search for innocence, its explorations of the time that love establishes within time, and its reaching through and beyond dualism.