translated from the Spanish by Daniel Bosch
I alone leave all this behind.
I leave this bench, I leave my pants,
the things I’ve done, my “big chance,”
my number split through side to side,
I alone leave it all behind.
From the Champs Elysées or the turn
of the moon’s strange, narrow street,
my death leaves town, my cradle too,
and, alone, cut loose, others at every turn,
the one most like me completes his turn
and dispatches his shadows, singly, discrete.
And I withdraw from it all, because all of it
remains to make up the excuse:
my shoe, its mud, its eyelet,
and even the crease in the elbow
of my own button-down shirt.
César Vallejo was born in Santiago de Chuco, Peru, in 1892. In 1923 he left Lima for France, where he became active in the Peruvian Socialist Party and the cause of the Spanish Republic. He died in Paris in 1938. (1991)
Daniel Bosch lives and writes in Boston. (1994)