A Draft Of Shadows

by Octavio Paz

Translated from the Spanish by Eliot Weinberger

Edited by Eliot Weinberger

A Draft of Shadows and Other Poems is the most recent collection of the work of Mexico’s leading poet and essayist, Octavio Paz. The first section of poems, from Ladera este (East Slope, 1969), reflects some of Paz’s experiences as his country’s ambassador to India (1962-68). Following stays in England, France, and the United States, he returned to Mexico in 1971, reacting to the urban sprawl and violence of Mexico City with the four long poems of disaster and rage that, together with shorter poems more familiar in tone, make up Vuelta (“Return_,"_ 1976). A long meditation on the poet’s childhood and adolescence, Pasado en claro (“A Draft of Shadows,” 1975) forms the third section of this volume and represents a further departure from the self-contained surreal images many associate with Paz. This bilingual selection concludes with a sampling of his most recent lyrics, and the promise of further experimentation. Paz, winner in 1981 of both the Neustadt Prize and the Cervantes Award, stated in a recent interview: “When I am writing a poem, it is to make something, an object or organism that will be whole and living, something that will have a life independent of me,” and throughout this book the poet’s abiding concern for language as a living force is revealed. For Paz, poetry is a way of reinventing the self, and appropriately, the reflective. “A Draft of Shadows” concludes: “I am the shadow my words cast.”

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Octavio Paz

Twentieth-century Mexican Poet