Like when a flower opens and reveals that it has no heart: four poems by Alejandra Pizarnik (1936-1972)


Alejandra Pizarnik, an Argentinian poet, greatly respected and supported by such writers as Octavio Paz and Julio Cortázar, had a long and ultimately unsuccessful struggle against depression. The intensity and intimacy of her poetry places her firmly in the tradition of Emily Dickinson, whose verse she greatly admired. In her “Notes for an article”, written in 1964, she states : “Intense need for poetic truth. It demands the freeing of visionary energies while maintaining, simultaneously an extraordinary aplomb in the handling of this energy. I’m not sure if I’m talking about poetic perfection, freedom, love or death.”

Vertigos or contemplation of something ending

This lilac’s losing its leaves.
It falls from itself
and so conceals its former shadow.
I shall die of such things

Vertigos o contemplación de algo que termina

Esta lila se deshoja.
Desde sí misma cae
y oculta su antigua sombra.
He de morir de cosas así


The big words

it’s still not now
now is never

it’s still not now
now and forever
it’s never


Pointless frontiers

a place
I don’t mean a space
I’m talking about
I’m talking about what isn’t
I’m talking about what I know

not time
just every instant
not love

a place of absence
a thread of miserable union


I have leapt from myself at dawn
have left my body next to the light
have sung the sadness of what’s about to be born

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