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SACRED DEFOLIATION, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography


"Sacred Defoliation" by CÚsar Vallejo is a poetic dialogue with the moon, but not just any moon-the moon as a multifaceted symbol that embodies existential and spiritual quandaries. Vallejo's moon wears many hats; it is a "Crown of an ample brow," a "pondering Jesus," and a "wild celestial heart." These descriptions don't merely capture its luminosity but delve into the moon's intricate relationship with human anguish and quest for meaning.

The poem opens with the image of the moon as a "Crown of an ample brow," a metaphor that likens the moon to an adornment for the Earth or perhaps for humanity's collective conscience. Vallejo amplifies this metaphor by describing the moon as "unleafing in weld-colored shades," suggesting that its light peels away layers of darkness. The moon here is a shedding entity, almost an ecological presence, unleafing as if revealing something hidden beneath.

The second line evokes the image of a "pondering Jesus / tragically mellow with emeralds," transforming the moon into a meditative Christ-like figure, adorned but sorrowful. Vallejo may be alluding to a divinity that is beautiful yet filled with existential despair, a Christ who is "mellow" in his sadness. Here, the moon isn't just an object in the sky but a mirror reflecting the complex relationship between divinity and humanity's ceaseless contemplations.

As the poem progresses, the moon takes on yet another role, as a "wild celestial heart" sailing in a "cup / brimming with blue wine." Here, Vallejo might be capturing the duality of life's pleasures and sorrows, much like a cup of wine can be both celebratory and potentially destructive. The moon's "stern stricken and wrecked" suggests a sense of aimlessness or even suffering, as if it, too, can't escape the dual nature of existence.

The poem closes with a twist: the moon, "trying in vain to fly," could perhaps be the speaker's "gypsy heart" wandering and "weeping verses." Vallejo comes full circle, identifying the moon's multiple roles as facets of his own existence and creative impulse. Like the moon, he suggests that we all have many roles and symbolic meanings, each revealing different layers of our human and perhaps even divine nature.

"Sacred Defoliation" is a poetic expedition into the depths of existential struggle, symbolized by a moon that is ever-changing yet forever constant, just like the human condition. It reflects Vallejo's consistent themes of existentialism, spirituality, and the poetic quest for meaning in a world filled with ambiguities. The moon, in its many guises, becomes a cosmic canvas onto which the speaker-and by extension, all of humanity-projects their dreams, fears, and endless questions.

POEM TEXT:

Moon! Crown of an ample brow,

unleafing in weld-coloured shades!

Red crown of a pondering Jesus

tragically mellow with emeralds!

Moon! Wild celestial heart,

why do you sail so, inside a cup

brimming with blue wine, westward,

your stern stricken and wrecked?

Moon! And trying in vain to fly,

in scattered opals you go up in flames:

you are perhaps my gypsy heart

that wanders in the blue - weeping verses! . . .


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