Bibliophilia Obscura: Two Poems by Alejandra Pizarnik
At the Wait of Obscurity - Translated by Johannes Anders
That moment one doesn’t forget
So void – I returned by the shadows
So empty – rejected by the timepieces
That skinflint instant nursed by my softness
Nuded, Naked of gored up vans
Sans eyes to recall old anxieties
Sans lips to scoop the squash of violences
Lost in the song of the ice-cream bells.
Sheltered girl, blind woman of her vitals
Send your hair frosted by fire
Embrace the tiny statuette of terror.
Signal the convulsive globe at your feet
At your feet where swallows die
Shivering of fear to glimpse the future
Tell us that the sighs of the sea
Humidify the only words
Worth living for.
But that sweaty moment of nil
Nestled in the cave of endings
Sans hands to never speak with
Sans hands to gift butterflies
To the children already dead.
 Van: A wing with which the air is beaten
The Enamorada - Translated by Johannes Anders
This dismal hobbyhorse of life
This recondite humour of life
Alejandra drags you not to deny it
Today you watched in the mirror
And you were sad and alone
The light roared and the air sang
But your lover don’t return
Notes you’ll send will grin
Your hands’ll tremor to revolve
Your lover so desired
Back to you
Hear the witless siren who stole
The boat with beards of froth
Where the laughing died
Recall the final hug -
Oh now nothing of anxiety -
Laughing in the handkerchief out loud
But lock the ports of your features
To secret them for later
With that lost love who lit you
You gnaw at the days
You blame the nights
Life wrings you so much
Desperate! Go where?
So Desperate.. Nothing left..
(Alejandra Pizarnik, the last innocent, 1956)
Alejandra Pizarnik was born on April 29, 1936 in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires Province, near the capital. Her parents, Jewish immigrants, travelled from Rovno, Ukraine (of the then Russian Empire), and had settled in Argentina against the 1915 Revolution.
A year after entering the department of Philosophy and Letters at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pizarnik published her first book of poetry, La tierra más ajena (1955). Soon after, she studied painting with Juan Batlle Planas. Pizarnik followed her debut work with two more volumes of poems, La última inocencia (1956) and Las aventuras perdidas (1958).
From 1960 to 1964 Pizarnik lived in Paris. There she worked for the journal Cuadernos, sat on the editorial board of the magazine Les Lettres Nouvelles, and moved in Parisian circles. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1968 and in 1971 a Fulbright Scholarship.
Pizarnik ended her life on September 25, 1972 by taking an overdose of Secobarbital Sodium at the age of 36. She was buried in Cementerio La Tablada, Buenos Aires, Argentina.