Octavio Paz.Objects and Apparitions

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for Joseph Cornell

Hexagons of wood and glass,

scarcely bigger than a shoe box,

with room in them for night and all it's lights.


Monuments to every moment,

refuse of every moment, used:

cages for infinity.


Marbles, buttons, thimbles, dice,

pins, stamps, and glass beads:

tales of time.


Memory weaves, unweaves the echoes:

in the four corners of the box

shadowless ladies play at hide and seek.


Fire buried in the mirror,

water sleeping in the agate:

solos of Jenny Colonne and Jenny Lind.


"One has to commit a painting," said Degas,

"the way one commits a crime." But you contructed

boxes where things hurry away from their names.


Slot machine of visions,

condensation flask for conversations,

hotel of crickets and constellations.


Minimal, incoherent fragments:

the opposite of History, creator of ruins,

out of your ruins you have made creations.


Theater of the spirits:

objects putting the laws

of identity through hoops.


The "Grand Hotel de la Couronne": in a vial,

the three of clubs and, very surprised,

Thumbelina in gardens of reflections.


A comb is a harp strummed by the glance

of a little girl

born dumb.


The reflector of the inner eye

scatters the spectacle:

God all alone above an extinct world.


The apparitions are manifest,

their bodies weigh less than light,

lasting as this phrase lasts.


Joseph Cornell: inside your boxes

my words became visible for a moment.


trans by Elizabeth Bishop


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