Eroticism is, above all else, exclusively human: it is sexuality socialized and transfigured by the imagination and the will of human beings. The first thing that distinguishes eroticism from sexuality is the infinite variety of forms in which it manifests itself. eroticism is invention, constant variation, sex is always the same.

Octavio Paz
The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism
trans. Helen Lane

The poet warns us from his prison of appearances – trees and thoughts, stones and emotions, days and nights and twilights are all simply metaphors, mere coloured ribbons – that the breath which informs matter, shaping it and giving it form, is the same breath that corrodes and withers and defeats it. It is a drama without personae, since all are merely reflections, the various disguises of a suicide who talks to himself in a language of mirrors and echoes, and the mind also is nothing more than a reflection of death, of death in love with itself.

Octavio Paz
Labyrinth of Solitude

that corrodes and withers

December 19, 2018

The poet warns us from his prison of appearances – trees and thoughts, stones and emotions, days and nights and twilights are all simply metaphors, mere coloured ribbons – that the breath which informs matter, shaping it and giving it form, is the same breath that corrodes and withers and defeats it. It is a drama without personae, since all are merely reflections, the various disguises of a suicide who talks to himself in a language of mirrors and echoes, and the mind also is nothing more than a reflection of death, of death in love with itself.

Octavio Paz
Labyrinth of Solitude

Eroticism

December 8, 2018

Eroticism is, above all else, exclusively human: it is sexuality socialized and transfigured by the imagination and the will of human beings. The first thing that distinguishes eroticism from sexuality is the infinite variety of forms in which it manifests itself. eroticism is invention, constant variation, sex is always the same.

Octavio Paz
The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism

Between Going and Staying

October 16, 2018

I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.

The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I am a pause.

Octavio Paz

January First

January 13, 2016

keylock

The year’s doors open
like those of language,
toward the unknown.
Last night you told me: tomorrow
we shall have to think up signs,
sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan
on the double page
of day and paper.
Tomorrow, we shall have to invent,
once more,
the reality of this world.
I opened my eyes late.
For a second of a second
I felt what the Aztec felt,
on the crest of the promontory,
lying in wait
for the time’s uncertain return
through cracks in the horizon.
But no, the year had returned.
It filled all the room
and my look almost touched it.
Time, with no help from us,
had placed
in exactly the same order as yesterday
houses in the empty street,
snow on the houses,
silence on the snow.
You were beside me,
still asleep.
The day had invented you
but you hadn’t yet accepted
being invented by the day.
––Nor possibly by being invented, either.
You were in another day.
You were beside me
and I saw you, like the snow,
asleep among appearances.
Time, with no help from us,
invents houses, streets, trees
and sleeping women.
When you open your eyes
we’ll walk, once more,
among the hours and their inventions.
We’ll walk among appearances
and bear witness to time and its conjugations.
Perhaps we’ll open the day’s doors.
And then we shall enter the unknown.

Octavio Paz

(translated from the Spanish by Elizabeth Bishop)