ADSactly Literature: Poetry Between Air And Voice (II)


In the first part of this work, we enter into a consideration of the material elements that objectify the interiority in Enriqueta Arvelo's poetry. We continue with general considerations and move on to deal with the main one of those elements.


The essayist Elémire Zolla maintains that interiority cannot be expressed directly but through some object, but he also states: "Everything that is external to man has validity and spiritual vigour only if it alludes to what is interior to him". Extracted from the familiar and present real, these objects and material existences appear in the poetic universe in the form of imaginary and intimate realities, as if they were only personal and secret essences. They shine with a materiality that is substantiated by interiority and convert the real into images. The visible is inhabited and exchanged for the invisible.

All of Enriqueta's work is a manifestation of the above; let's see a few examples in the immediate future: "I threw myself into the arms of the serene drizzle / And I scanned my essence with the lustre of your colts"; "I did not have to shake in the afternoon / the accumulated dust / at the gallop of the dry leaves. We can appreciate in these verses how the elements of nature are metamorphosed into intimate images of being, energized by the word.

In this vivid world of the material imagination present in Enriqueta Arvelo's poetry, our reading spirit is reached and induced by a 'state of soul' (Bachelard), or a 'mood' (Pfeiffer), which tempers the imaginary in a kind of poetic atmosphere. This is constituted by the force of figuration brought about by the recurrence of material images, and which allows us to intuit a world in which everything seems to be permeated by the dynamic energy of the air. This is the "rumor", to use the metaphor used by Alfredo Silva Estrada, who is leading his work.

Image from Prawny in Pixabay

Rumor of air

The air is fundamental matter that inhabits and runs through the exteriority of the poetic being, that is to say, a real presence that is recognized in the material; but, at the same time, it is an interior image, an intimate sublimation that identifies the being itself. Like a breath, essential and enveloping, the air passes through Arvelo's poetic writing. It inaugurates whites and silences, as if its passage through the page, through life, left untouched or hidden spaces, reticence of poetic saying; it is agglutinated by moments, it grows and decreases, composing serious or exalted rhythms and melodies; it figures and thinks of existence as a void, but, at the same time, as a permanence; it reveals, visits and fortifies solitude as "nothing that protects".

Already from his first poems, collected under the title The Nervous Crystal, this spiritualized material presence is identified: "I go only with my rhythm and my stamen and my needle. / And I lean on the air". These verses convey the vital temperament of the being that works in solitude, in inner recollection, but also in the recognition of his "own breathing", named after Silva Estrada, and which finds its correspondence in the air: the image emerges as an analogy of the substantial event.

The imaginary force of this element is condensed in the poem "Air", which we transcribe in its entirety:

Oh living and pleasant air that holds my breath!
O fiery wind that cleaves my substance!
While panting the risk next to my life in synthesis
and real clouds play with my ring.

My loneliness in flight is moved and satiated.
The tames and the people, wonderful air.
Because of your formidable and lazy rails
shall I try to annoy you in my green haystacks?

You run smooth blade through my blood and spirit
and it buttons on the wound with a gurgling breeze.
Will my thrust lie on the flat grass
to love the white fire of the blue domes?

Great space crossed by my deep impulses,
faithful yearning for smoke, crystal artery,
route that you were unscathed by your centuries-long wait,
in your empty tracts my birds train.

The poetic figuration of the air acts first as a parallel of the individual essence, and then transforms itself into a symbol of interiority, melting into a single existential matter. Initially, the correspondence between air (outside) and breath (inside) stands out. Immediately the transversality of both realities seems to open up, since the air "cleaves", it crosses the "substance" of the being. This is also air, interior air. It merges with the air, takes on its qualities, but also passes through it. It seems that the poetic thought of "the open" in Rilke (see his "Eighth Elegy"), on which Blanchot reflects, sensitively and intelligently, concurs here:

Could there not be a point where space was both intimate and outside, a space that outside was already spiritual intimacy, an intimacy that, in us, was the reality of the outside, to which we would be outside in us, in the intimacy and intimate breadth of this outside?

Image from Claudio Silvano at Pixabay

Dialectic of the outside and the inside, osmosis between the intimate space and the undetermined space, as Bachelard refers. In the poem, the poetic image of air converges dialogically with the image of being: they approach, cross, merge, separate, drawing a material and spiritual mobility. The vivacity, gratuitousness, almost virile spirit and vagueness of the air play with the impulse, the desire and the acceptance of being, exchanging one for another, one for the other. The being that speaks is a being that oscillates in the air, like the air, taken and disturbed by it. And we too are touched by this imaginary experience of air in the oscillation of the word experienced as a poetic transmutation of existence. A beautiful meditation by Bachelard can be quoted in this regard: "To live, to truly live a poetic image, is to know (...) a becoming of being which is an awareness of the disturbance of being".

Undeferrable questions arise: why is air the predominant material image? What meaning(s) does imaginative consciousness have in it? How is its symbolic tradition, its archetypal resonance updated in the poetic dreaming of this strong and profound language? These and other questions run through our reading, which will attempt to approach possible answers.

The textual affinities air-breath, wind-substance, wrapped in the halo of poetic dreaming, awaken and lead our interpretative competence. An elementary etymological search will give us the word ánemos in the Greek origin of the word air and ánemos when passing to the Latin will be anima, which means 'air', 'breath', 'soul', according to Corominas. Poetic correspondence is based on a verbal analogy: communicating vessels of language and imagination. The conjecture is reaffirmed in the field of philosophical and literary reflection by Zolla: "The wind, symbol of the soul, is the animated and individualized air In a similar order, that of symbolism, Cirlot notes: "The air is essentially associated with three factors: the vital, creative breath and, consequently, the word; the wind of the storm, linked (...) to the idea of creation; finally, to space as a sphere of movement and production of vital processes". Thus, we can formulate that the dynamics of air or wind in nature - open space of the outer cosmos - corresponds to the mobility of the individual soul - open space of the inner world; air is, in the intimate being, breath, blow, voice, song. The wind creates and populates voids, which are the grounds of the inner being that is said, sung, to inhabit the world. That's why the last verse of the commented poem: "In your empty stretches my birds train."


Bibliographical references

Bachelard, Gaston (1986). The Poetics of Space. Mexico: F.C.E.
Blanchot, Maurice (1969). The literary space. Buenos Aires: Edit. Paidós.
Cirlot, Juan E. (1982). Dictionary of symbols (5th of.). Spain: Edit. Labor.
Corominas, Joan (1973). Short etymological dictionary of the Spanish language (3rd of.). Madrid: Gredos.
Pfeiffer, Johannes (1951). Poetry. Towards an understanding of the poetic. Mexico: F.C.E.
Rilke, Rainer M. (1979). Poetic Anthology (3rd ed.). Madrid: Edit. Espasa-Calpe.
Silva Estrada, Alfredo (1989). The transmuted word. Venezuela: Ediciones Contraloría General de la República.
Zolla, Elémire (1979). About misfortune and happiness. Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores.

Written by @josemalavem

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