On Alejandra Pizarnik’s poetry – The Volatile I by Johannes Göransson | Boston Review


do not hand me over,

oh saddest of midnights,

to the impure whiteness of noon.

– Alejandra Pizarnik
from Works and Nights (1965)


a flower

not far from the night

my mute body


to the dew and its fragile urgency

– Alejandra Pizarnik
from Works and Nights (1965)



This lilac unlaces.

It falls from itself

and hides its ancient shadow.

I will die of such things.

– Alejandra Pizarnik
from Extracting the Stone of Madness (1968)



The absent figures are sighing and the night is thick. The night is

the color of the eyelids of the dead.

All night long I make the night. All night long I write. Word by word

I am writing the night.

– Alejandra Pizarnik
from Extracting the Stone of Madness (1968)

Translations by Yvette Siegert

In ecstatic states, it may not be clear whether we are in paradise or hell, whether the song is happy or sad. This is the experience Pizarnik describes even as she propels herself into its drunkenness, creating a saturated atmosphere that is, as Negroni puts it, the “antidote to transcendence.” Or it might be a kind of anti-transcendence, found precisely in the negation of transcendence, the refusal to elevate poetry into “concept.” Her poetry feels like a constant, intensive refusal that generates its own Gothic beauty and black light: “imminence without a recipient. I see the melody.”

Alejandra Pizarnik’s poetry finally gets the English translation it deserves.

Source: The Volatile I | Boston Review

~ to share with Marina



  1. Reading your article and thinking about what you’ve written in my blog, I thought the Pizarnik, a poet I love a lot, has no space in my blog because it’s not very much translated in Italian language. Many of his poems that I read they are in the original language (still a beautiful and sounding language). It’s time to do something for her. I thought I’ll do the post on her work and I will also include this article, do you want?
    You are right: his poems express a constant refusal: nothing exists, except the Melody. And Melody is not dark (it haven’t color), dark is the struggle to reach it.
    A lot of kiss (and always forgive my bad English language) 🙂

    • I do, I do want!! Pizarnik wants whatever is about to happen, to happen. She does not want to transcend like the transcendalists try. I wrote a very short essay on Thoreau, the American transcendentalist writer. Myself, I am with Pizarnik. I do not want to waste energy trying to transcend but instead to immerse myself in the moment, each moment that is just about to happen. Thoreau could believe he was transcending at Walden, his mother’s house or atop Mt. Monadnock, but he couldn’t do it in the middle of a traffic circle or a grocery store . . .

      I just love what you wrote here, that “. . . Melody is not dark (having no color, dark is the struggle to reach it.” You write so well in English that you are even able to write of such thoughts and feelings in language not native to you. How I am saddened sometimes because I cannot read you in your native Italian. :(.

      Sometimes, if it is easier for yo to write to me in Italian, please do and I will translate it through Google?!! On second thought, maybe not. One day we may meet and then all of the meanings we’d intended will. come rushing in and we will be amazed and laughing, too, I hope. :), many kisses for you

      • I like to write you in English so I’m doing training:)
        I agree with you about the importance to “to be” in every moment of our live, and nothing else. Hic et nunc, you know.
        I really hope to meet you one day, and talk and laugh together 🙂
        Kisses for you.

  2. :))))))

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: