share


Diana’s Tree

Diana’s Tree, Alejandra Pizarnik’s fourth collection, was published in 1962, when the poet was barely 26 years old. Named after a tree-shaped silvery amalgam that alchemists referred to as the Philosopher’s Tree, the book’s title made subtle allusions to the cult of Artemis, the pursuit of knowledge and the poet’s native Argentina. With it, Pizarnik would establish the poetic voice that had already garnered her recognition in Buenos Aires and among her circle of literary expats in Paris. Diana’s Tree is a cycle of thirty-eight poems. The pieces published in this issue speak to the assurance of a poetic voice that is already experimenting with new ideas of temporality and paradox.

—Y. S.

*

 

15.
I miss forgetting
the hour of my birth.
I miss no longer playing
the role of recent arrival.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

16.
you have built your house
you have feathered your birds
you have beaten against the wind
with your own bones
you have finished on your own
what no one ever started

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

17.
Days when a distant word takes hold of me. I go
through those days, sleepwalking and transparent.
The beautiful wind-up doll sings to herself, charms
herself, tells herself stuff and stories: a nest made
of stiff thread where I dance and lament myself
at my countless funerals. (She is her own blazing
mirror, her spare for the cold bonfires, her mystical
element, her adultery with the names that crop up
alone on pallid evenings.)

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

18.
like a poem that’s aware
of the silence of things
you speak so as not to see me

 

 

*

 

 

This sequence of poems was selected for inclusion in the January 2015 Translation Issue by Daniel Medin, a contributing editor of The White Review. He helps direct the Center for Writers and Translators at the American University of Paris, and is an editor of The Cahiers Series and Music & Literature.



ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR


ALEJANDRA PIZARNIK lived in Paris between 1960 and 1964. There she took classes at the Sorbonne, worked in literary publishing, and translated works by several French-speaking writers including Aimé Cesaire and Antonin Artaud. Trained as a painter, Pizarnik was heavily influenced by the surrealists and also became friends with key figures in the expatriate community of Latin American writers, most notably Octavio Paz (1914-1998) and her compatriot Julio Cortázar (1914-1984). She died in 1972, aged 36.

Yvette Siegert is a poet and translator based in New York. For her translations of Alejandra Pizarnik, published by New Directions and Ugly Duckling Presse, she has received recognition from the PEN American Center, the New York State Council for the Arts, and the Übersetzerhaus Looren. She has edited for The New Yorker and currently teaches comparative literature and translation at Baruch College of the City University of New York.


READ NEXT

Fiction

The White Review Short Story Prize 2017

/gosha rubchinskiy/

Poetry

May 2015

Europe

Poetry

October 2013

Steam