Original poem reprinted online here: "Black Stone on Top of a White Stone" by Cesar Vallejo
Originally read: March 27, 2013
More information about the Poet: Cesar Vallejo
I don't know whether to call the repetition anaphora or not. Or for that matter, how anaphora works in general. Maybe it's a case by case basis. In any case, this poem repeats certain phrases like "I shall die in Paris" and "Thursday." And, for a poem like this, does the anaphora or repetition serve any other purpose than to add to the psychology of the poem.
Past me wrote, "Repetition of the day creates a desire -- this has to happen on this day." What has to happen? "I shall die in Paris." In the first stanza the phrase repeats in line one and four. And there's a sense of humor about the line when the speaker's feeling about the situation comes in, "it does not bother me"
Also in the first stanza is the specific introduction of the day, "Thursday." The name of the day repeats in the same line, and in all three stanzas. Yes, there's a certain sense of psychosis with the specificity of dying and the specific day to die; however, note the way is not specified to this extreme? Why?
The focus is on the person who dies, not on how they die, or the act of death at all. But there's so little known about the person. Well, the name in stanza 3 "Cesar Vallejo" is specific, but in what way? A name in a poem, or in any poem, creates this weird sense of reality within a bubble.
I'm not writing that poetry is escapism or an art where there has to be a sense of disbelief, but rarely are names in a poem -- and especially the authors name ("Dante" is the only other I recall at the moment). With the name in place, "Cesar Vallejo" plus his sense of repetition that brings a sense of paranoia and description. The poem reads as a self-fulfilling prophecy in this aspect.
But who kills Cesar Vallejo? There's a brief mention of "shoulders to the evil" in stanza 2, but there's further description of the "evil" in stanza 3 -- "They struck him, / All of them, though he did nothing to them. / They hit him hard with a stick and hard also / With the end of a rope."
The anonymity of the "they" brings a mob mentality, but victimizes "Cesar Vallejo" especially with the line "he did nothing to them." And through the victimization of "Cesar Vallejo" the last lines punctuate a sense of superficial/but realistic causes through the eyes of the witnesses that do nothing, "Witnesses are: the Thursdays, / The shoulder bones, the loneliness, the rain, and the roads..."
Now, I call these causes of Cesar Vallejo's death because of the structure. Superficial in a sense that there's nothing more to the labeling except for the labeling in which the witnesses that do nothing are still responsible.
"Thursdays" the day that repeats itself in the mind of "Cesar Vallejo." "Shoulder bones," maybe a responsibility (physically and mentally) unable to be carried, "loneliness" the aftereffect of psychological trauma, "the rain" kind of cliche that brings a sense of atmosphere, "the roads" leading to where? Where?