Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry: Explained, FRESCO, by CESAR VALLEJO

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

FRESCO, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Fresco" by CÚsar Vallejo delves into the complexities of love, transience, and divine presence, painting an emotionally vivid picture reminiscent of a fresco-a painting done on wet plaster. The poem starts with a declaration of how the speaker has become entwined with his lover: "I came to confuse myself with her so much...!" This confusion goes beyond mere physical closeness to venture into the realm of the spiritual, suggesting an almost ethereal union.

Amidst this blend of identities, the speaker continues to "play among tender strawberry patches," evoking an Edenic image that ties in with the concept of spiritual purity. The "matinal, Grecian hands" of the lover further this association, as Grecian art and culture often depicted ideal forms of beauty and grace. Yet, these idyllic moments are ephemeral, much like the "bohemian knots" of the speaker's scarf that the lover arranges. It's an intimate action, but also a reminder that knots can be undone, just as time undoes moments.

The clock winding "us in its spool, to the stroke of its interminable wheel" brings the theme of time's inexorable march into the narrative. The speaker and his lover are caught in this spool, their moments winding tighter and tighter until they are ultimately cut by the shears of time. This evokes a sense of inevitability, where the good nights of the past become mere memories that make the lover laugh at the speaker's "strange way of dying, my pensive way of rambling."

Here, Vallejo explores the transient nature of emotions and experiences: "Sugar pastes of gold, bridal jewels of sugar," are exquisite but fragile, ultimately "crushed by the gravestone mortar of this world." The material world serves as a constant reminder of mortality and impermanence, and yet, there remains a space for something transcendent.

In the concluding stanza, the speaker points to the unchanging aspect of human emotion-"a tenderness that is never born, that never dies." Amidst the ups and downs of love and the inexorable movement of time, something remains untouched. To this, the poem attributes a celestial quality, referring to stars as "lovely, little handkerchiefs," each of different colors-lilacs, oranges, greens-that "the heart soaks up." The term "handkerchief" seems particularly poignant, signifying both a tool for wiping away tears and a keepsake of intimate moments.

Vallejo closes with an awe-inspiring image, "the blue, unedited, hand of God," suggesting that this eternal tenderness is divine. This "great, apocalyptic handkerchief" is both a comforting notion and a sweeping cosmic vision, as if God wipes away the tears of earthly sorrows and uplifts the eternal spirit within us.

"Fresco" masterfully captures the polarity of human experience, contrasting earthly transient moments with an everlasting spiritual quality. Vallejo's vivid imagery and nuanced understanding of emotion make it a moving testament to the complexities of love and the mysteries of existence.

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