David Rosenmann-Taub – "The most important and profound poet of the entire Spanish language" who is almost unknown even in his Chile
In this century the scope of Chilean poetry is vast, but in no way is it superior to poetry in other Spanish-speaking countries or to poetry in other languages.
There is no championship in poetry, culture, or beauty. But Rosenmann-Taub's poetry, for its taste, for its knowledge, and in all justice, is peerless and reveals a temperate yet unbridled beauty. And, for the depiction of a tormented contemporary life, it is the poetry of a superlative author.
What a fortuitous gift that this poet Rosenmann-Taub should be among us in our time.
His body of work is very extensive, even the number of volumes that have so far been published. His work has been known to the public for fifty years, and he is turning seventy. Known to the public? He is virtually unknown. Unrecognized in Chile. And why? It says nothing against Rosenmann-Taub, but is very telling about the Chilean infirmity. How can it be thought that he does not exist and even - for some of the few who have heard his name - that he is a kind of literary invention?
The fact that his character may be difficult to deal with for those who have met him does not explain the appalling ignorance of the fullest poetic ideal in Chile still alive. Where is he? Well, in his works; and physically in North America, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. He continues to write on his own.
Gabriela Mistral generated antipathy in Chile: this is why she left, and saw her homeland again precious few times; and died abroad. Yet she obtained, albeit grudgingly, some acknowledgment in her country during her life. Rosenmann-Taub has not.
This man born in Echaurren Street, in the wretched, dilapidated, and incoherent capital of the country Chile, may as well never have been born at all as far as the others, his contemporaries, are concerned - in spite of the fact that his first book, the ineffable Cortejo y Epinicio, was favored with a certain admiration by a number of good Chilean voices, those of Hernán Díaz Arrieta, Roque Esteban Scarpa, Hernán del Solar.
After the publication - also by the outstanding Soria brothers of Cruz del Sur - of his subsequent two short books of poetry in the first years of the fifties, almost nobody said anything about them. And yet, poems of his continued to appear, previously unpublished or not, whether in anthologies or in a hand-printed edition by Taller 99, with engravings. And in the seventies, five phenomenal books by the publisher Esteoeste in Buenos Aires came out. Only one of these books is known to have received a review - by Hernán del Solar; it went unnoticed. That was the only echo these books raised.
Rosenmann-Taub's entire oeuvre has, over time, remained largely neglected. A scarce few of us, in Chile or abroad, have asserted his supreme value. But almost no one has been listening.
What is going on in Chile?
What country are we in, that a poet, unique in letters as well as in the spirit of those who speak, think, and feel in Spanish, should be left aside, forsaken, dispossessed? Is it for us to dispossess ourselves of him, as if we were rich in genius?
Everything, of the worst kind, comes to pass in Chile. Thus Chile will pass. With pain, and without glory.
But the poet endures; his poetry is perdurable. We would say imperishable if we did not know that eventually, in the end, everything will die in this world.
Rosenmann-Taub's voice, choked by pain and love, is heard in poems of more than forty years ago. And read, if you find it, the extraordinary metaphysical, divine poem in the last book of his that we know of, brimming with the fatal wine of one single poem spilt into multiple stanzas: El Cielo en la Fuente (The Sky in the Fountain).
[In another book, Los Surcos Inundados (The Flooded Furrows), the poet speaks of the child "dandún," who is dying:]
"The shadow of death at the threshold stops.
Oh dandún, oh dandún, do not look at its face.
The shadow of death from the threshhold advances.
Oh dandún, oh dandún, cover yourself with the sheets.
In his hands the kernel of the burburbur: window
wide open, almond that crackles, caterpillar,
bricks, steps, wheels: the chair gujgujguj,
the teaspoon (....)
The shadow of death is next to your bed.
Be good, my dandún, better look at the dawn.
A short corridor (....)
From the threshold the sun, lying like a dog,
gazes at the still bedspread, (....)
in your closed eyes, terribly open."[The child is now dead, and a Requiem is said for him:]
although we shall always look at you
we shall never see you.
Chunk of husk, oh rascal,
dandún, shy murmur:
there with the banderilla,
here with the battalion
of the dead, oh dandún,
such a clot, so dulí:
there swoons of weeping
here you burst out laughing.
Already tris bracelet is closed,
already tris necklace is closed,
although we shall always look at you
we shall never see you.
(....)Already he is closed, he is closed,
it is not the boogie man, my blood,
he is already closed, he is closed,
it is not death, my blood,
if oblivion does not rot
nonever will I forget you, (....)"More stirring poems cannot be found in Chilean poetry. Neither [Gabriela] Mistral nor anyone else achieves the abomination of pathetic sorrow that Rosenmann-Taub fully attains with his "claw, despair" [the last two words of the poem]. There was already another poem dedicated to this same "rotten child" with "diapers of moss" in a "lullaby" from Cortejo y Epinicio.
And why is Rosenmann-Taub not known, not heard, not seen? Because of the spiritual sin of us Chileans, who are used to living with ills. And because of stupidity.
If a few lucid people survive him, they will be good and sorry when the poet is no more, and when nobody capable of singing of dandún remains. For all that, this is worth saying!
He who is now speaking will someday cease to speak, the paper of this article will be gone. Silence will abide. Perpetually. Ah, no! Somebody will emerge from the wombs that can bear fruit for this country, and he will know.
David Rosenmann-Taub is the paramount living poet; he is alive on earth or in heaven. He is the spring of living waters from which Yehuda Halevi wrote almost a thousand years ago.
It may be that this letter to no one needs a billboard.
Rosenmann-Taub is not a poet for children; or for childish trivialities. There is the conviction that he is more profoundly serious in his poetry and perhaps in his mysterious life than Neruda, Mistral or, certainly, Huidobro. Why even mention Parra or anyone else?
The discretion with pride, but without vanity, of the great poet who composes, stores up, and sometimes publishes if the opportunity arises, also sets him apart from our stumbling traditions. It does not matter to him whether people think about him or what they think about him. He is a unique kind of writer among us.
At the same time, he belongs to the primordial features that have made Chilean poetry in verse, in this century that is ending, a true poetry.
Being, in the final analysis, very much of here, he is far, far beyond. And, if I may say so, of the beyond." - Armando Uribe Arce
"In Auge, the poet sets out to reach the summit – golgotha and paradise – of the mountain of consciousness, to know himself and, thus, to know the reason for being here: the science of living – dying– in order to be born: needle, thread, basting of the permanent: substance and goal of his work: a marvelous festival, atrocious and inevitable."
"Auge is the seventh title that the Chilean poet, a long-time resident of the United States, has published in recent years. It brings together sixty-two poems with a very clear formal unity. In general, they are short poems, with a brief meter, marked by a constantly rising and accelerating rhythm or by abrupt static halts. To achieve these effects, Rosenmann-Taub frequently resorts to colons, which he employs with great mastery as true semantic, auditory, and graphic short-cuts: the lines rush headlong or are fired like shots in which the poet holds the maximum of resources in abeyance. There are poems – a number of them – constructed without any articles, beautifully compressed and condensed, as if they were Latin verses. For example, Poem XLIV, titled "Conducive":
Another resource which is employed throughout the book is quotation marks to indicate a dialogue or a conversation within the poem. The poet, in Auge, is constantly asking questions, conversing, narrating, in quite a colloquial and even sarcastic tone. With whom is this dialogue occurring? We can't be sure, it's part of the enigma, but at times the talk seems to be with God or with the poet himself:
"You, body: an enemy?”
“You are wasting away.”
I lay down to fight with myself:
withered slowness. I rose: “Peace.”We know that Rosenmann-Taub's entire undertaking is permeated by the imperative of eliciting the utmost of the poetry’s phonic possibilities, thus bringing it close to music. It could be said that for him, in poetry, the form, the content, and the spirit of the work, all inseparable, are captured by the ear. The rational task, the task of deciphering the word, the meaning, is entrusted to, or, better, is centered on the ear. The rhythm, the silences, the external and internal rhymes, the metric breaks, the modifications in prosody, the alliterations and other figures that contribute to the controlled construction of a musicality, are essential in the reading of this work.
In this endeavor Auge is an extreme book. We find ourselves, then, with an extreme book whose author is a poet of extremes in the sense that "any spoken word demands some kind of continuation, what is spoken never being the end, but rather the extreme of speech." The effort of Rosenmann-Taub in negating all that is superfluous places the verses at the limit of intelligibility. This has to do with wanting desperately to liberate poetic language from its own mass and from the laws of gravity, in such a way that the theme crumbles and spatters when it collides with the pauses, the rhymes, or the images.
The journey of a creator who uses this poetics in such a relentless manner can only be solitary and often misunderstood. In the poetic tradition of the past century precedents can be found of poets (Mallarmé, Benn, Mandelstam) who ventured on similar quests, and the incomprehension and misunderstandings are also comparable. Auge, in ancient Greek, means "brilliant light," a gleam that reflects a being alive, a birth, but which can also blind. This is the risk involved in making poetry at the extremities of language. Rosenmann-Taub deliberately positions us in that threshold zone. Almost at the end of the book he includes a very beautiful poem, which through its calm and balance seems to point out to us the other options available to him but which he takes away from us:
On the shipwreck day of my most beautiful boat,
I climbed up to its highest mast
to look at the sea.
There was no sea: there was not even its trace:
there was not even the void of that final day.
There was only looking.
I looked at the looking towards the sailing which I await.Thus, to read this book is difficult and many rereadings are required so that the “Then I understood” with which the book closes may perhaps come to pass in the end." - Pedro Gandolfo
David Rosenmann-Taub, Los Despojos del Sol [The Remains of the Sun] (LOM ediciones, 2006)
"David Rosenmann-Taub conceives of habitual living as a being outside – a passage without return: a living (and a dying) – without “finding out”. The Remains of the Sun begins with the break: consciousness becomes present: man knows himself. What was experienced, before knowing oneself, is to exist; what is experienced now, not to exist."
"Before addressing his readers, the poet not only endeavors to say something to himself but also, if we may so put it, to construct himself for himself by means of the word; that is why in him language strays far from its usual meanings. Genuine poetry frequently offers resistance to the reader. It even sprouts new terms: such as First Ananda, the name given to the first of the basic units of Los Despojos del Sol, by David Rosenmann-Taub, a book recently published under the hallmark of esteoeste (Argentina). The term will eventually reveal its organizing sense with the publication of the Second Ananda.
Do nature, activity, events on the one hand, or mere consciousness on the other, create the reality of the person in all its singularity? In the incidents of life, in our acts, in the events that affect us, in the exterior world, do we recognize ourselves, or do they actually exist in order for us "to be"? Or do we perhaps achieve that singularity only through the intimate, deep perception of ourselves?
It seems to me that it is among such questions that the experiences in "Diary of A Pebble" and other poems in the book ripen--the expression of a dramatic split in man between his existence and his consciousness of himself.
Without doubt, one is a person as soon as there is consciousness of oneself; but the surrender of oneself to existing – that is, the giving of oneself over to habitual acts and reactions – is like losing this consciousness. The paradoxical result: one is not a person as soon as one exists. If one perceives oneself in a pure act of consciousness, one apprehends oneself as made almost of emptiness. What is this emptiness? Where is the reality of oneself? From another point of view, the full knowledge of oneself is not possible: one lives unavoidably imprisoned in existence or in consciousness, worlds that do not communicate.
I left, out of fidelity. To whom? says Poem I. One leaves in order to exist and to demonstrate to oneself one's own existence – if we may say so – in order to encounter oneself; but one does not encounter oneself, since one ceases to perceive oneself, to recognize oneself, in ordinary acts. On the other hand, this amounts to not having left, to not having existed fully, since full existence requires consciousness:
To touch myself, to open myself, now, to close myself, with limpid stealth (if not, what would happen?), clasping the sheaf that has purified me ever since I have known that I do not exist.This means, in turn, to deny movement or to demonstrate its ineffectiveness: Motionless, I captured the corner where the Emporium of Everything revolves. [Poem I.]
Nor does nature nourish the reality of the person. I summoned the tree-lined avenues in order to help myself to them. [Poem III.] But those three-lined avenues "doze parched." They are not enjoyed. We are not reflected in the mirror, but the mirror is reflected in us. The empty mirror does not reflect anything; at most, it almost reflects, barely, the form of the formless. If we want to help ourselves to nature, it helps itself to us; if we want to assimilate it, it is the one that devours us. Thus, the dinner guest says of the endives, in the poem Manjar ("Delicacy"):
the voracity: they enjoy the way
they take on my saliva.Our bodies – "shoulders, eyelids, hands" – do not belong to us; nor do our portraits represent us; they are horizons impossible to grasp, "torrential," "greedy" for us, which absorb us and remove us from our own identity [Poem VIII]. Divinity is not outside of the enclosure in which we struggle. God is not beyond, but here, between the wardrobe and the bed [Poem VII]. We are identical with him rather than similar. God imposes silence and is the silence. He does not help us to know ourselves. To know ourselves proves to be more difficult than to know God.
The vision of the universe in Rito ("Rite") is extremely daring. The cosmos wanders about "dilapidated," but as if in diapers – in fact at the stage of its first, newborn's defecation – without even becoming aware of its own orphanhood and fragility, in the dark, and searching for more darkness, as if its highest degree of evolution were to look dizzily for the consciousness of man, intuiting that only in this, the sole light, will its journey be able to achieve meaning. Thanks to the contact with that "I" of the poem, beauty will emerge triumphant. A ritual act, with the rhythm of the cosmos in pursuit of its maturity of "dung," but maturity at last:
on its bosporus of wilted stumbles,
still baby's first defecation, dilapidated,
not even hearing gethsemane,
blind in search of more blindness,
the sluggish, clattering cart,
of the constellations,
will ask, at the next house,
confused, for me:
mature dung, forever beautiful!We reread a page of Jean Rostand, the biologist. It may be that life has appeared only on this planet, and consciousness only in man. Pure chance. Human consciousness, sole light of the universe: the very idea of it puts our feeling of orphanhood and isolation into horrifying relief. "It would not seem to me at all impossible that our world might have the tragic privilege of the human brain and that it might be the only place in the universe where the blind play of the molecules has ended up in reflection and torment."
With the passage of years, seeing consciousness as a true refuge in life takes on more importance – in spite of that sensation of isolation that this can cause – an attitude that must have originated with Jesus of Galilee. The final stanzas of "Dark Evening," a poem by Luis Cernuda, say:
Through these sordid
suburbs, with no north,
you go, like the useless
destiny of man.
And in your thought,
for light or faith
you now search, while outside
darkness conquers.We believe that David Rosenmann-Taub, with his hallucinatory vision, and a lot of strange humor, exalts consciousness and creative will in the poem quoted above and in others in the book. He leaves us in some way cosmically desolated, but at the same time he comforts us with that calm which comes about after the witnessing or experiencing of a drama that is followed by the attainment of a truth.
It would be worth dwelling longer on these poems. Perhaps Ecclesiastes, Pascal, and existentialist thought would offer points of reference and comparison. And Le Cimetière Marin. Somehow we feel that Zeno's arrow, which wounded Valéry, also wounds Rosenmann-Taub.
Let us hope that this short account of a reaction to the very first reading of a demanding book does not do too much violence to its readers or to the author himself. In these lines we may have interpreted or digressed more than we have given the work its proper value; but let this reaction before a remarkable text of poetry be duly recorded." - Alberto Rubio
David Rosenmann-Taub, País Más Allá [Country Beyond] (LOM Ediciones, 2004)read it at Google Books
"Perhaps one of the most legendary Chilean writers of the moment is the poet David Rosenmann-Taub (b. 1927), who has attained what thousands of other personalities of our national literature cannot even envision, nor would it interest them: to create a stir solely by means of his work. The “bullhorn” of this poetic renown has been the publisher LOM.
And to make the legend more surprising still, Rosenmann-Taub really does write a poetry totally different from anything that we see in our bookstores. If very poorly read, his poetry would give the impression of being hermetic, deliberately complicated, with obsolete, anachronistic words, and poems that are almost epigrammatic. But that is a narrow, deplorable point of view. It goes without saying that reality has, fortunately, given us a poet who fully masters the raw material of poetry – language – and does it in such a way that he is able to build minimal, almost perfect structures, characteristic of an oeuvre that has been in the process of distillation for almost half a century. If poetry has somewhere been defined as the art of pushing language to its limits, then Rosenmann-Taub is the poet par exellence. Possessed of a style and a mastery that is both efficient and powerful, Rosenmann-Taub does justice to the fable confected by others, with a language that vivifies the word, and a unique poetry charged with meaning, music, and rhythm. In short, Rosenmann-Taub lets nothing escape him, and neither should the reader let the possibility escape of reading and re-reading this poetry, unparalleled in our literature." - José Ignacio Silva
David Rosenmann-Taub, El Cielo en la Fuente / La Mañana Eterna [The Sky in the Fountain/ The Eternal Morning] (LOM ediciones, 2004)
"David Rosenmann-Taub stands out like a surprising eminence. In the fifties, in our country, his name aroused public expectation. In those days, culture was culture. There was, let's say, an excellent literary culture. In the street, simple people spoke with original metaphors. The code of the common language, however, was not interrupted. On the contrary, it flowed like spring. Ah, those years! Well, around that time the first book by David Rosenmann-Taub appeared: Cortejo y Epinicio (Cortege and Epinicion). A beautiful edition. A strange title. About "cortege" we know everything or almost everything. In essence: "people who form the retinue at a ceremony." But about "epinicion"? Nothing. Almost nothing. One had to resort to the dictionary: "song of victory; triumphal hymn."
So that we had in front of us something more than the triumphal ceremony of a new poet; we were witnessing a kind of changing of the guard in the traditionally Spain-oriented, modernist, Ruben-Darian regime of our poetry.
Rosenmann-Taub, for all that, did not allow himself to get easily wrapped up in the early flattery of fame, being a sensitive temperament to a high degree, refined by inner non-conformity, a mordant critic of the world around him, and a master of anti-stupidity.
Solitude, in the end, constitutes the cortege of the elect. In what coin is paid the epinicion of solitude?
It is not easy, here, among us, to write what follows without paying a heavy price for the public's lack of comprehension:
Nausea. The firefly
– basalt, perfection –
laughs with its brand-new wingspan:
steely. (The broom
suborns me.) I kneel. Laziness
that does not beg for useless meanings. [Cortege and Epinicion, second edition: Poem XLI] But, also, in compensation, the same pen also writes:
I have just died: for the earth
I am a newborn. [Cortege and Epinicion, second edition: Poem XVII, "Genetrix"]
Solitude is followed by silence. Silence, by suffering, the sieve of life. Further on, the trips, the distance, the withdrawal from the roots.
Sad, fickle, inhospitable earth is quick to scorn.
Like Spinoza among his optical devices, David Rosenmann-Taub dwells in some unnamed place among his poetical devices: words.
Two books masterfully published rescue him as the preserve of a few select readers: Los Despojos del Sol (The Spoils of the Sun) and El Cielo en la Fuente (The Sky in the Fountain).
In his essay, On Difficulty, George Steiner notes: "The poet, frequently, is a neologist, a goldsmith who recombines words: what soft instrument did Mandelstam have in mind when he invoked the music of the tormenvox? Writers are passionate resurrectors of buried or ghostly words..."
In El Cielo en la Fuente are these combinations of words:
The rose toward the rose: the ardors
undulate and succumb.
Like mine before me, Jesusa
in another heart.
Won't she seek rest?
On a page of sand and fear
she reads her name. Bundles the dominions.
There will be walls, but not very high. [The Sky in the Fountain: Poem XVII]
David Rosenmann-Taub knows why he says what he says. He is a goldsmith, a neologist, a recombiner of words.
In poor villages, there is still the belief that the goldsmith is an alchemist. And that the devil is behind alchemists. The villagers fear them, as having lost the thread of logical discourse. They do not realize what they are losing: the world's other form of reason." - Pepys
David Rosenmann-Taub, El Mensajero [The Messenger] (LOM Ediciones, 2003)
read it at Google Books
"Living in the United States for the last two decades, David Rosenmann-Taub (1927) is a reclusive poet, of whom little is known and who rarely allows interviews. Therefore, the publication of any work by him is a great event, and in this case it is an extraordinary book, “one of the best poetry books of recent times,” according to Camilo Marks.
El Mensajero (LOM) may not be perfect, but it scales the highest summits, such as the poem “Spell”: “Come down!: the crags announce the night,/ the tears tan the taste of sunset,/ the impetuses fight with bronze edgings,/ the trees release absurd sorrows”.
Rosenmann-Taub, who is also a pianist, writes in a Spanish which vibrates with life and is rich in allusions. His appearance on the literary map led Alone to declare: “A totally new star: an unrelenting intensity, a vehement vigor, and the power to elevate and poeticize even the most prosaic themes.”"
"His biographers emphasize the genius of this child born in Santiago of Polish parents. He learned to read at the age of one and a half. His mother, the pianist Dora Taub, taught him to play the instrument at two, and at three he began to write his first poems.
His studies in Spanish at the Pedagogical Institute of the University of Chile (he graduated in 1948) and his courses in astronomy, music, English, French, Portuguese, aesthetics, and physics bear witness to his inquiring mind.
Since 1985 he has lived in the United States, and since 2000, Corda, a non-profit foundation, has been conserving and disseminating his prolific poetic and musical creations.
In Chile, the publisher LOM has undertaken to keep his literary legacy current and available. This house has just released El Cielo en la Fuente/La Mañana Eterna and País Más Allá, without the presence of their author, who, maintaining his enigmatic and legendary character, tends to be rather elusive. So much so, that he restricts his interviews to one or two a year.
From the United States, David Rosenmann-Taub relates that he still stays in touch with Armando Uribe Arce and Luis Merino Reyes, “both honorable people, whose writings show a fresh atmosphere and mental cleanness.”
In your poetry, a feature very present is the heart…- “Just as the brain is the center of the nervous system (the repository of consciousness and of the consciousness of consciousness), the heart is the center of vitality. It’s a matter of an agreement between corporeality and consciousness. In El Cielo en la Fuente the heart and its beating have many levels.”
What role does youth play in your work?- “The energy of senility on our planet is huge. To accept received ideas without true knowledge is one of the most common manifestations of mental senility. Prejudices play a horrifying part in increasing this senility. Youth is to think with clarity. Obviously, the function of thinking is to know. It’s not enough for the universe to happen, it wants to know itself. It’s not enough for the sky to be the sky, it wants to be reflected. And it’s not enough for the fountain to be a fountain, it wants to reflect.
“I have tried to express in a duality what perennial youth is, and how to conserve it throughout all the stages of life. Youth (an open mind, curiosity, and inner health) has nothing to do with age. This is very obvious in real artists: they keep on getting younger. The final works of Beethoven, of Rembrandt, reveal an enormous youth. Rembrandt does self-portraits: is there anything more youthful than the force of his awareness of his old age?”
Why País Más Allá?- “I have been writing this book all my life. In it, my childhood is merged with that of my parents and my grandparents. One of the levels that I develop is the constant responsibility of the true adulthood of being a child. What is the reason for growing? What is the reason for remembering? The awareness of the awakening when, already not forming a part of here, we set off towards the childhood of there.
“With this book, I wanted to satisfy something that I never found in my experience of poetry as a reader; that is to say, the challenge is to go beyond.”" - Interview with Maureen Lennon Zaninovic
David Rosenmann-Taub, Cortejo y Epinicio [Cortege and Epinicion] (LOM Ediciones, 2002)
read it at Google Books
"I have recently received from Chile... Los Surcos Inundados (The Flooded Furrows) and Cortejo y Epinicio (Cortege and Epinicion) by David Rosenmann-Taub. These two books have an absolutely exceptional quality and tone, and I see no one, even in France, who dares to approach poetic expression with such a heartrending violence. The pain of living, the despair and harshness of one's daily experiences, the futility of all of love's impulses toward creation, and lastly the obsession with death, line by line inspire this lyricism that is overflowing with ardor and is, as it were, discouraged in advance. To round out this too cursory portrait, one would have to note the part played by an almost delirious humor and imagination.
It seems that diurnal life here is still entirely impregnated by a nightmare; the poet himself does not quite know whether this nightmare is actually the true reality, whereas normal existence, which the others live, and with which they make do, may be an illusion of their stubborn optimism. The Eloi, for which the Morlocks are watching out, as in Wells' terrible tale. Love alone, love that is half tenderness and half sensuality, would counterbalance this organic anguish; but this only lasts for the blazing instant of one's ecstasy and one falls back immediately into the frightful obsession with "sarcasm".
Well, such is the magic of art (when it is conjoined with that of sincerity) that the final impression given by such a reading is of beauty. David Rosenmann-Taub is an authentic poet, living in the midst of a world whose every aspect is endowed with a symbolic meaning, which makes him, in a way in spite of himself, the brother of those countless existences, from that of the lamb to that of the snake. Committed poetry. Ah yes, this poetry really is. Committed to the pain of living, committed to the solidarity of suffering. Listen to this moan, this death rattle:
...Man licks the earth, and the earth falls onto man.
Man penetrates the earth.
And the crying of the earth wet man's brow.
The earth with its deep hollow,
bed of light,
prepares the dream.
One must sleep the dream of the earth.
One must sleep.
Rest on the earth
a calm brow.
Press with fingernail and mouth and thirst
the resounding waterfall of earth,
its turbulent box
sailing toward peace.
Like a scream of water, time penetrates into the earth of bones.
It goes toward the sleeper.
It asks him if the dream tastes of earth.
And the sleeper does not know whether to say
or keep silent... [Cortejo y Epinicio, first edition: Poem LXVII.]
Is not this wavering between a bedazzled acceptance and a horror-filled refusal the very attitude of the poet and the mystic? This lyricism of agony is very near to our heart.
Bitter and harrowing, David Rosenmann-Taub's poetry is beset today by all the anxieties of the future." - Francis de Miomandre
"Under the prestigious auspices of Cruz del Sur (Southern Cross), a house which does not harbor just anything, an entirely new star is giving off its first, mixed, strange, twinkling but already unmistakable beams.
What is, who is David Rosenmann-Taub?
He will answer us
I was God and I was walking without knowing it.
You were oh you, my orchard, God and I loved you.[Poem XIX]
God is of concern to David Rosenmann-Taub, he is irreverently familiar with Him, as the titles announce: "...God is moving to another house. In a fancy car..., God always has a cold: is he running a fever..." And these poems contain audacious fantasies such as can only be found in those of the Romancero or the mystics.
God is moving to another house. In a fancy car
and with great care he packs all the stars
of the East. Into a sack he tosses the Head Angel:
the china of his apparel rings in a festival. [Poem XXII]
With this sort of dissonant, prosaic note, beautiful images of a childlike simplicity alternate with features whose symbolism evokes a less somber Claudel.
The clumsy seraphs trip over a curl
of Lucifer's. The choruses lie with the crockery.
And thus between throne and thunder the palace is dismantled. [Poem XXII]
This could appear in a children's story. Further on, the tone changes, the meaning emerges amidst gibes and a revealing shudder passes through. David Rosenmann-Taub is not at peace before God, in spite of his youthful poise.
Gravity and time are put in a drawer
along with the destiny of the soul and the eyeglasses
of God. The tumultuous ship sets forth
on the waves of chaos toward the new house.
Before pulling out of the gnawed kingdom,
God goes up to the roof terrace to see if by an oversight
he has left something behind: his eyes settle
on the roofless parlors: although he looks at and through
the vacant corridors, he forgets death
and life which flog each other in an endless corner.
And God leaves without seeing them, but he feels a shiver.[Poem XXII]
It is not a very perceptive reader who is surprised, after this temerity, to find the author [at another point in the book] in "continual ecstasy":
I follow and pursue the divine flame.
I always drown in divine water.
Blind I am blinded by divine summit...[Poem XV]
Or is even surprised to hear the author whisper, repentant, a prayer (vaguely comparable to the very famous sonnet of Sánchez Mazas):
Thus stretched as you have asked,
on my knees, the dazzling visions,
and with grieving hands,
slighter than a split bird,
in my ample promised repose
from when I fed the soaked
slave joists, until your swords
sliced my arid heartbeat,
in my final bed here you have me.
I do not know if you will come and I fear
that you may not come to my poor temples
to take this your vineyard's fire
that I have sustained on earth:
right away, I want your summons right away.[Poem XVI]
This religious cry is among the true novelties that David Rosenmann-Taub brings to the new poetry of Chile. The young people of the Nerudian period were going on another path and these visions did not assail them. Could it be that a pioneer has appeared, someone capable of shaking the routine pattern not just of the last twenty or thirty years but also of yesterday and of the day before?
It would be the best news of the year.
Another surprising, unexpected feature among the lyrical raptures: the humorous note. We do not know whether the poet wanted to conjure it up, whether or not the intention was to produce laughter – something which inhibits many people from laughing, because they don't dare go against explicit or implicit intentions of a work. The important fact for us is that rarely has a "violent and unexpected contrast" had a greater comic effect than the final adjective of the final line of this stanza:
In diapers of moss, my darling,
I will wrap you. Go sleepy bye, my sweet child.
I will wrap you well, son,
with emeralds and alabaster halos,
and I will cover your little hands, my darling,
with lovely worms.
Go sleepy bye, my child, rotting child. [Poem IX]
Naturally there exists an explanation, and anyone who notices the subtitle "Funerals" and continues to read the rest of the piece will find it. The poet is sarcastically referring to a dead child. Others will be moved by it: this means that these are stanzas with a double effect. All the more richness.
But in fact the new author does not need more; his Cortejo y Epinicio stands out precisely because of the variety of tones, the profusion of meters, of rhythms and rhymes (he doesn't scorn either) – and the ease with which he handles his delicate instruments. You feel that you are in the middle of a jungle, in the good company of invisible voices – modern, classical, archaic and revolutionary – always in lush foliage and deep terrain.
Thus is originality created.
One example of the originality that distinguishes Rosenmann-Taub: the unrelenting intensity, the vehement vigor, and the ability to elevate and poeticize even the most prosaic themes, as in "Echaurren, sleepy street..." [Poem LIX]. Another example, which we will mention in conclusion, is certainly not the least: the strictly secondary place he gives to the domineering libido, to demanding and obsessive eroticism. The opening line of a love poem (which has some connection with Más ["More"] by Magallanes Moure) explains why: In "In the Sensual Lava" (which flows burning) the line "Your body is not enough: I desire your desire" [Poem LXV] expresses in a different form the same idea, the appetite for "something more."
May the author pursue this "something more," and find it: he will also have succeeded in fulfilling the yearning of many readers." - Hernán Díaz Arrieta
"Eluding the dictatorship of conventional language, the author, whose inspiration has never taken a vacation, succeeds in uniting music and literary creation in his work. “Donde muere la música,/ otra vez las palabras.” (“Where the music dies, once more the words.”)
David Rosenmann-Taub: a genius? At least that is what one could conclude from the story of this son of Polish parents who was born in Santiago in 1927, who learned to read at the age of a year and a half, and who at three wrote his first poems. While his father, a polyglot and a discriminating reader, introduced him to the world of literature, his pianist mother taught him to play the piano when he was only two. By the age of nine, he had already taken on his first student.
“The piano and writing,” says David Rosenmann-Taub now, “are as much a part of me as my body. My parents protected what was natural in me. They didn’t set a course for me: ‘You have to do this.’ No. Exactly what I liked was what they wanted to support. My father could have thought that I was doing something secondary when one morning, very early, he caught me writing verses; but he said: ‘You don’t have to go to school if you want to write.’ And my parents never interfered in my play. My mother used to say: ‘To play, for a child, is work.’ When someone has the aptitude to do something and the possibility to develop it, is that genius? What is difficult in this world is to be able to live for what we are. Just as an apple tree cannot avoid producing apples, so I have not been able to avoid perfecting my thinking.”
And he began to write before knowing how to write:
“I dictated my inspirations to my mother; very soon I could do it alone. I’ve always written. This love of letters I would explain as a marriage. I am married to letters. I love my wife, I am crazy about her. It’s a good marriage, because my wife is also crazy about me. The influence of my parents has been very strong. From the intellectual point of view, in everything that I’ve read, I’ve found an astronomical distance between my mother’s thinking and that of the novelists and philosophers.”In this way, music and literature become one with the body and soul of the poet:
“Until I was fourteen or fifteen, they could have been called ‘passions’. Since then? My creative world is my breath. Pedro Humberto Allende, my teacher of musical composition, said, ‘You’re going to dedicate yourself exclusively to musical composition.’ I replied to him: ‘I study musical composition for my poetry and poetical composition for my music.’ With an incredulous expression, he asked me: ‘Are you joking?’ It wasn’t a matter of choosing one thing over the other. My poetry and my music are two friends who help each other a lot. I write in music, I write in Spanish. When I studied other languages, I did it to go deeper into my musical language and into my poetic language. I can’t deny that, between the ages of ten and twelve, I was influenced a great deal by Schumann’s music. To listen to my mother play the ‘Symphonic Etudes’ and ‘Carnaval’ affected my life. It got me used to the idea that what I love most will disappear. One of my piano compositions is ‘Morir para nacer’ (‘To Die in Order to Be Born’). This is a daily experience: to be born on Tuesday, you have to die on Monday. We all carry the corpse of our past. To be tomorrow requires that I die today.”Inquisitive by nature, while he studied Spanish at the Pedagogic Institute of the University of Chile – he graduated in 1948 – he also attended courses in astronomy, English, French, Portuguese, esthetics, and art. Subsequently, at the suggestion of a friend of Einstein, he studied physics.
“Everything has served me, including, of course, physics. Knowing physics is inescapable. Although the information it provides, up to now, has been very primitive. Besides, the physical world is replicated in the psychic world. In essence, there is no internal and external. Much of physics is basic for the understanding of psychology. I also attended anatomy and botany classes. I don’t talk about what I don’t know.”In 1976 he was awarded a grant by the Oriental Studies Foundation to write Ajorca de Europa (Anklet of Europe) and give lectures in New York. In the midst of the vicissitudes of his life, he cultivated friendships. About Alberto Rubio and Armando Uribe he comments: “Very gifted poets, clean and consistent friends.” He says that there are writers with whom he took only brief contact but who meant a lot to him “because of their good will, their lack of envy, and their desire to help.” He mentions Antonio de Undurraga, Luis Merino Reyes, Joaquín Ortega Folch, Luis Sánchez Latorre, Augusto Iglesias... “In Chile, as in every other place,” he adds, “there were individuals who tried to monopolize everything and who acted like aggressive prima donnas. Fortunately, there existed a fairly small group of intellectuals with generosity and curiosity. Hernán Díaz Arrieta (Alone), Mariano Latorre, Ricardo A. Latcham, Julio Arriagada, Enrique Molina, Samir Nazal: as human beings, gems.”
In 1985, he settled in the United States, devoting himself to his artistic activities and to giving classes in literature, music, and art. In addition, he records his piano compositions, compiles his drawings, and writes. Since 2000, CORDA, a non-profit foundation, has been safeguarding and disseminating his work. “The preservation of my work gives me peace,” he acknowledges.
Nevertheless, it was not easy to discover the whereabouts of David Rosenmann-Taub, considered by Alone a pioneer, capable of shaking up the routine of twenty or thirty years of poetry. An almost detective-like investigation took us down one road after another until finally the poet decided to break his long, extremely long silence.
What has led you to become an outsider in our literary circle, with a “veiled identity,” as Juan Luis Martínez said?- “One of the things that I thank my country for is that I encountered a lot of difficulty in getting published there. For an artist who wants to be one in an honest way, without betraying himself, without being an internal judas, it is very advantageous not to get any response. From the beginning I’ve had an agreement with myself: I have never written for today. I have written and I write for yesterday and tomorrow, thinking of nourishing those who left and those who will come. The present is the place in which I situate myself to write for the past and for the future. From the point of view of thought, the present is the time that is least real. From the point of view of inspiration, though, the present is the only factor that moves me: I am alive.”
Behind that inspiration exists arduous labor. How does your working life unfold?- “Writing and... writing. By the time I pick up the pencil, I have already written many drafts in my head. I don’t respect improvisation: I don’t feel that what comes from it is mine. An artistic work, in order to be realized, must seem to be the spontaneous effect of a spontaneous cause, although it is the consequence of a complex natural process. For example, the extremely elaborate ‘Impromptus’ of Schubert, or the paintings of Vermeer, which seem to have been created without effort. That I call art. A pencil with a good point and, nearby, a good eraser and a lot of paper whet my appetite and get me going. The blank page seduces me – I embrace it and set it aglow through the act of writing.”
In this act of writing, are there authors you would consider indispensable?- “Immediate life is to me so strong that it eclipses other influences. How can all of culture affect me compared with the fact of walking, any day, at any hour, on any street? Study, investigation, improvement are totally different from the act of creation itself. The only author who is indispensable to me is myself.”
But I understand that the poetry of San Juan de la Cruz and Juana Inés de la Cruz have been fundamental for you.- “Fundamental for the history of poetry, not for me. In Juan de la Cruz I observe the same thing as in Teresa de Ávila: a hallucinating mind, of supreme intelligence, above the life of the planet. Juana Inés de la Cruz wrote, in her First Dream, an imitation of Góngora’s Solitudes: what in Góngora achieves plastic aims, in her achieves conceptual aims. More than a poetess, more than a woman, she is a force that beautifies anything.”
Just as music becomes a part of your verses, does poetry influence your musical compositions?- “There are elements of music, of painting, of literature, of sculpture, of architecture, of photography which move me. Literature and painting help me to further clarify my musical thought. Literature also has helped me with drawing: A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies by Bartolomé de Las Casas and Dead Souls by Gogol have awakened images in me. Certain musical works of mine have to do with Thackeray and Tolstoy, in the formal (not the conceptual) sense: I wanted, as in Vanity Fair and Anna Karenina, that one voice be distributed among different voices. As of now I have recorded some one hundred CDs of my piano works. My reaction to un-civilization and to the selfishness that predominates in human conduct, my outcry, my indignation, my repulsion do not express themselves in me with words. They appear, indeed, in some of my musical motifs. My protest against the historic world appears in some of my compositions. In my poetry, very rarely.”
What place does silence have in your work, as a part of the music?- “Silence is fundamental in poetry. The sonority of silence. Otherwise the verse doesn’t happen. The lack of awareness of what silence entails – a caesura, the passing from one line to the next, the passing from one stanza to another – has showed me the extent to which what is written in apparent poetic form is not poetry. And silence has a fundamental value in music. No less than that of sound.”
Do motifs of sound and rhythm perhaps lead you to invent words, unite some or stress others where, grammatically speaking, it’s not the rule?- “It’s not a matter of that but rather of what it takes to express oneself, and of establishing that the use of the word is not the conventional one, which is, in the language of poetry, only one aspect of the word. This is the serious problem in literature, especially in poetry: conventional language tries to become a dictatorship and impose itself as the only language. Authors from other eras are better defended from this, because they no longer depend on the conventional language of the present moment.”
Unamuno said that in order to learn to write one has to forget grammar.- “What Unamuno means is to forget prejudices: to be free. Grammars are a posteriori, not a priori. But there is a tendency in the human being to receive orders without discrimination. Grammar represents what is usually done. Language is logical and is not. If I am an artist, the language which I receive is only a minimal aspect of what I need: I must create my own language: I cannot express myself with the words of another, because in that way I lie and I lie to myself. It’s an indispensable requirement. One must learn whatever will help to satisfy this requirement. And to learn things that are useless is a great wisdom: that of recognizing what is useless.”
Hearing you recite your poetry one is struck by the importance that the vowels acquire.- “A poem is a graphic, mental, and sonorous phenomenon. In a certain way, a true poem is a score. The same as if we are going to read a musical text by Chopin or Schönberg. With me, every poem has its score. In Quince (Fifteen), a book that I hope to publish soon, I comment on some of my poems, and I include their scores. If the reader doesn’t read correctly, how is he going to understand?”
It would seem that in your verses you give more preponderance to the sound than to the content.- “Everything is for the content. If there’s no content, there’s nothing. How is form or sonority going to have more importance than the content? Does the body have more importance than the soul? To separate form and background is a pseudo-didactic theory.”
“La serpiente llamea, desafía/ la claraboya, enróscase, me silba,/ porque viví la vida, no mi vida. (“The serpent blazes, defies/ the skylight, coils, hisses at me,/ because I lived life, not my life.”) , you write in Los Surcos Inundados (The Flooded Furrows, 1951). Do you think you have found your own voice?- “My voice found me. In the line you quote is the danger of not living one’s personal life, of living a life according to circumstances, in thrall to a kind of a preeminent fashion. To be born in China in the past century or two thousand years ago, or to be born two thousand years from now in South America or in Africa ought not to alter what I am. The circumstance is one thing, and the individual is something else. That famous phrase of Ortega y Gasset’s, ‘man and his circumstance,’ can be a marvelous justification for saying that nobody lives his own life but rather lives the life of his milieu. Perhaps that is what happened to Ortega y Gasset. Not to me. However grave the circumstance, one has to be oneself. At least in one’s self-dialogue. It’s true that the Spanish language is something that I received. We receive everything. I was given the cloth, but I made the suit and it is I who keeps making it.”
In all of your poetry there’s the relevant presence of God. “Era yo Dios y caminaba sin saberlo./ Eras oh tú, mi huerto, Dios y yo te amaba”. (“I was God and I was walking about without knowing it. You, oh you, were my orchard, God, and I loved you.”) What is your relationship with the divine?- “For me the term God is of this earth. What I call divine is the expression of absolute earthliness. It has nothing to do with the concept of religions, in which I find no divine divinity. The poem that you mention was written when I was twelve. I wrote it again in Buenos Aires, after losing my family. And I rewrote it with very few changes. That which satisfies me, gives me tranquility, gives me joy, without asking anything from me in return: that is what I call God. Which is why I say: ‘I was God and I was walking about without knowing it.’ That tranquility, that satisfaction, was God. I was the orchard. Believing that I loved things, I was loving myself. Because if I love someone, what I love is the image that I have of the other. I would formulate your question: ‘What is your relationship with yourself?’”
Why, if you have you written around forty books, have you only published ten?- “Poetry is not the same as a detective novel. It is usually published not because of the quality of the work but rather because of how marketable it is. There are publishers that make a living off this: they buy the product they can sell. From their point of view, it’s reasonable. There is, also, the more open publisher, who wishes or needs to do business, but, who at the same time, having an artistic sense that is not incompatible with that ethic, wants to give a higher direction to his or her activity. Arturo Soria, who was the owner of the publishing house Cruz del Sur, lost no time in publishing me and told me, “When I go, who will publish your books?” He didn’t manage to publish either the second volume of Cortejo y Epinicio (Cortege and Epinicion) or País más allá (Country Beyond), which are still unpublished. Cruz del Sur, to announce them, issued a recording in its collection ‘The Archive of the Word,’ in which I recorded poems from those books. With the publishers in my country, I would have had to pay to publish them. For many years I had a lot of financial responsibility for my family. I couldn’t afford that luxury. Since then I have devoted myself solely to my artistic work. The fact that now in Chile Auge and the third edition of the first volume of Cortejo y Epinicio (it has four volumes) will be published shows me that the spirit of Arturo Soria continues with this project of LOM’s.”
And what would you say has been the evolution from your first poems to those you write today?- "My poetry is the answer to that. I write what is important to me. What was important to me when I was three years old continues to be important to me still. What horrified me when I was five continues horrifying me. What attracted me when I was ten continues attracting me. What does not withstand the passage of the years is failure. What purpose does my poetry have, if it doesn’t withstand the passage of a few years?”
Let’s speak about Auge, your new book.- “Seven of the twenty-one poems of Auge are commented on by me in the book Quince. I feel myself at the height of my control. My inspiration has never taken vacations. What name to give my inspiration? Auge (Zenith).”
In conclusion, what challenges has poetry presented you with? What has it meant to you to devote your life to it?- “Poetry has forced me to deepen my curiosity, to think and to rethink and to rethink yet again until I found answers within me. Poetry is goal and pretext. In order to truly express something, one has to truly know it. To live is a challenge. I haven’t devoted my life to poetry. I’ve devoted my life to my life, which is poetry.”" - Interview with Beatriz Berger
From "CORTEGE AND EPINICION "
With sealed eyes, vesperal,
in front of the gleaming candelabra
of saturday, my mother. The half-shadow
flatters its strings. Wanes
the hour between the lit candles.
The dead shake themselves – fever: troops,
exultant, pitiless, pilgrimage,
as candelabra, in mirrors. Since friday,
avaricious, the agony. In the panes,
stunned by the clangor, the sun,
phylactery of goodbye, believes it is dreaming.
The house is a sob. The horizon
cuts across the house: face of dusk
gone between the never and the never.
After, after the wind between two peaks,
and the brother scorpion that rears up,
and the red tides over the day.
Voracious volcano: halo without empire.
The vulture will die: lax punishment.
After, after the hymn between two vipers.
After the night that we do not know
and outstretched in the never a sole body
silent as light. After the wind.
The cup of coffee, the coffeepot,
the steam that soothes my skeleton,
the obedient pan, the blackened
amulet, the mustard, the icebox,
the broken sink, the jaunty
tureen, the finicky airs of the flirtatious
iridescent vase, the parapet
of vanilla, saffron and spring.
Place of integrities: my free will...
Oh happy kitchen: when I die
and my time – without time – vibrates and grows,
in faithful purring may all that is mine and is clear
return to your wild mat
and may your steam – without end – dispel it.
David Rosenmann-Taub, Los Surcos Inundados [The Flooded Furrows]
"The Flooded Furrows, the second book by David Rosenmann-Taub, is something more than a promise from a writer of our generation. Rarely have I seen a voice that brings more richness pregnant with true – and very contemporary – poetry than that of Rosenmann-Taub. At last, and it was about time, here is a poet who does not pursue novelty just for its own sake.
"The Flooded Furrows" brings something that is rather unknown in our young poetry: an awareness of the trade. To write in a state of hallucination was something very entertaining at a certain time; with that, much foolishness was justified. Write some loose lines, let out some incoherent howls, and the poem was done. Or the thought was: someone wrote free verse; I can do that too, and it's easy. Or: someone invented that delightful scale of sounds – the twelve-tone scale – and here is my chance. The master has genius, and the disciples take it upon themselves to discredit him. Thus it has been and thus will it be. Behind enormous possibilities for authentic artists – the ones for example who started the Vienna School in music, and super-realism – hid legions of incompetents and frauds.
Rosenmann-Taub is not going back to anything. He knows his personal technique, he knows the technique of his trade, and, most important, with those two areas mastered, he writes a strange, moving poetry. An in-depth analysis of the book would reveal the command of adjectival usage, the expertise in the technique of verse: think of the metrical variation of his poems, the creation of words, the richness of the vocabulary that he possesses and uses with familiarity, not letting the bookishness behind be seen.
However, within the precise, hard architecture of his poetry floats a primal world, of elemental beings, not in the manner of shining, graceful creatures of a past or future paradise, but endowed with all the strength and warmth, the bitterness and disillusionment of some inhabitants of any modern city. From them spring forth a furious debating, an interrupted sleep, a world of semi-nightmare, that do not, at times, exclude the touch, the thread of tenderness and of eclogue-like tranquillity. The latest poems of Rosenmann-Taub insist on the theme of love, never monotonously; it is always treated with consummate technical skill. But the boiling center of this poetry is what has been mentioned above; because from there has issued all of his strange art and because this poetry (which, in general, has not particularly evolved since his first book – not that this matters, although some people believe that a poet must always be in a continual thematic ferment) has its inception in that formless world of death, of desolation, of tragic tenderness, of a joy mixed with irony, bitter irony. A world composed of love, primitive sounds, frantic gasping.
The Segunda sonata ("Second Sonata"), which ends the book, contains one of the best and most extraordinary moments of David Rosenmann-Taub. The process of division into tempos is unmistakable – the three parts titled Pórtico ("Portico"), Abismo ("Abyss"), Réquiem ("Requiem") do not, naturally, have the same pace, the same dramatic tension, with which Rosenmann-Taub has invested the poem. The way of treating that division shows a closeness to musical technique. Let's be clear: it is not musical poetry, an absurd thing that some believe to exist, but simply an external similarity to sonata form. This can be seen from the title. But it is in the depths of the poem, in the world that the reader of poetry creates, in the emotion imparted to the reader, in that landscape which passes from the poet to the one who reads, that the relation with music is found, and not in the use of words with any musical value or in the accenting of the line. The differences of "tempo" are vibrating in the depths of the poetry, moving in a sea that is constantly helped by external form.
The theme is eternal: death. The death of a child. At the end of the third movement of the sonata, the atmosphere is a mixture of a very profound, desperate tenderness and a soft, warm, pleading playfulness. The first two tempos part company. The first: a kind of mocking prelude, with a childish tone in which there does not exist the slightest hint of death, not even in the first lines, where a note of nostalgia seems to appear. The second: the landscape changes completely. Once the ironic, mocking tone has disappeared, one enters, directly, and in the first line, a dark, mortal terrain, with a fateful omen:
The shadow of death at the threshold stops.
Oh dandún, oh dandún, don't look at its face.Dandún is the son. When love struggles to emerge transformed into words, and the word does not come forth, there only remain syllables which do not mean anything in terms of semantics, but which, uncertain, fragile, arbitrary, are rendering the whole tragic depth of despair that language cannot deliver. Those syllables leap out – two, three, however many – and a noun is delineated: "Dandún," "bomberún," "burburbur": words in which tenderness accrues, in which the syllable means nothing if not the immense desire to express a love that knows no bounds. Gradually the atmosphere of anguish increases. A refrain that announces every so often – at least every two stanzas – the presence of death, charges the poem with concentrated tension. A hemistitch keeps constantly recurring:
The shadow of death...The other half of the line changes, which helps to emphasize, to magnify the proximity of death which, in the final refrain, ends up lying in the bed of the sick child. First it stops at the threshold. Then:
The shadow of death from the threshold advances.
Oh dandún, oh dandún, cover yourself with the sheets.
And now it has arrived:
The shadow of death is next to your bed.
Be good, my dandún, better look at the dawn.Death looks at the child:
The shadow of death has leaned toward you,
(the pillow has turned blue):... they look like two brothers."Until the refrain ends:
The shadow of death has lain down in your bed.
My son, dandún, you no longer belong to me.And as the refrain recedes, the tone alters immediately. With death in the bed, with the heartrending sensation that the child's life no longer belongs to him, Rosenmann-Taub changes the heretofore relative calm. The rhythm becomes breathless, like a maelstrom; repetition is used to accentuate the feeling of despair, of powerlessness. The words strive to express grief, and come out vertiginous. He repeats the negative, the verb, the very name of the child, and up to the end of this second tempo, everything gushes out of the poem in an interminable stream of swift adjectives, of blazing visions of powerlessness before death. Finally, the rhythm calms down again, becomes quiet in a few assonant alexandrines:
From the threshold the sun, lying like a dog,
gazes at the still bedspread, comes down as far as your still
chest, proceeds as far as your pallidly still face
and in your closed eyes places a blind glint,
in your closed eyes, terribly open.Everything announces stillness, death. The stillness of the recumbent sun and the immobility of the body in those terrible, simple adjectives: your "still" chest, your pallidly "still" face, the "still" bedspread. Until the final line, with the two hemistitches in apparent contradiction: "closed eyes" and eyes "terribly open," which is to say: eyes closed for us, lifeless for us, but terribly open for death.
The last movement – the "Requiem" – is interspersed with another refrain that, in the same way as the previous one, serves to emphasize the ambiance of powerlessness before death. But the rhythm is different. The octosyllables give the line a more rapid pace. Here the light, elusive tone fits naturally. Certain themes of the previous two movements now appear in a modified form, as if diluted. The tenderness becomes much more intense because of the desperation of the parting, and the refrain takes on a doubly funereal tone which destroys everything that might refer to the life of the child. If during his life the child was
Teddy bear sleep, insomnia,
white on white, white mount,
a lot of taloned thistle,
a lot of breeze, barely winged,
a smidgen of snow, candle,
without face with face,
without voice with voice, oh trataro,
lute, dandún, puff, nobody...
rose syrup, pupa, runrún...
Upa, triguito, ravé,
ota naanca, sweetness...the moment of his death is drawn in four lines in which can be heard, with a truly horrifying note, that decisive "tris" of separation, of farewell:
Already tris bracelet is closed,
already tris necklace is closed,
although we shall always look at you
we shall never see you.And from Spain one wonders what hidden power, what invisible hand, what underground currents, irrigate, continue touching and fertilizing the earth of our poetry, making it always new and always flowing." - Miguel Arteche
"Where music dies,/once again words, says the poet David Rosenmann-Taub, in the epigraph of his recent work, Los Surcos Inundados (The Flooded Furrows). Here are, perhaps, the two lines of an unfinished poem, fired off at horizons filled with esthetic premonition, doctrine, and content. Because when music languishes, the word lends it vibrations, becomes the support and vehicle of another music that ideas cause to arise in its alchemy.
It may be an aesthetic stance to animate words so that they arouse deep human vibrations. And, in such a case, the poem takes its worth as much from what it says as from what it suggests.
David Rosenmann-Taub is a great poet, a skillful creator of allusions, who never goes so far as to dispense with formal logic. Stimulating associations bubble up in his verses, like daydreams of harmony. At times, a thought is the experience that triggers for the poet the emotion of the poem, and so when he speaks to us about the roots of poetic creation, he synthesizes the reasons that illuminate the work of art, as in "a fruit roaming in the fog," "living lightning," "holy sprout," "sweet-smelling slime." The son is the "farewell to my ripe brio," stirring in the poet like "the strong love that dies in the thorn."
In the verses of this poet there is a diluted romanticism, a constant oscillation in his technique of showing the inside and the outside of emotions, the temporal flow of the anecdote elevated to the exemplary case.
In the section called "Frieze of Isabel," we see a sort of romantic arabesque, very close to a mysticism between lover and intellectual. The lines, in their rhythm, are like a "breeze, shadow." Compositions like the ones titled "Abyss" and "Requiem" are feats of meditation on the shadow of death, with a child as the subject; they are full of paternal yearnings, of painful tragedy in the face of inexorable dying.
It is not easy to find echoes of other poets in this work. If such echoes exist, we need to accept that Rosenmann-Taub has completely reworked what for the other poets were basic stimuli, the very origin of the poem; he has reduced these to mere ancillary elements.
In Chile, a country of great craftsmen of verse, the voice of David Rosenmann-Taub sings his songs of love, his raptures of mysticism (apparently with esoteric roots), his exercises in rhythm, like the exponent of an aesthetic orientation which rests on an intelligent confrontation with classic poetical resources.
In "The Flooded Furrows" one glimpses a spirit masterful at plumbing depths; instead of stooping to trivial chatter, he creates images that are winnowed into song.
Here is a poetry that, without being hermetic, raises allusions to a whole new level. As with the great poets, a lived or imagined experience becomes the trigger for subtle lucubrations. And the spirit runs the whole gamut of the azure, the grays of a lyre that vibrates to the beat of reality, beyond the concrete and the temporal. " - Vincente Mengod
"David Rosenmann-Taub, whose first book, Cortejo y Epinicio, has allowed a select public to know him, is a poet of authentic value.
In reading "The Flooded Furrows," we discover the real secrets of Rosenmann-Taub's poetic magic. He focuses on his themes with an exquisite wisdom; everything is in its place and even the play of words and images was precisely where he put it. This poet dedicates himself entirely to his art, sails on the waters of poetry, and rather than be taken away from them, he would prefer to drown.
"Creation," "Childbirth," and "Son" form the "First Sonata." The way in which the poet delves into his poetry is remarkable: always in the midst of life, never forgetting that it is man who suffers, who sings and cries. The verse takes on the feeling of a whip that punishes the poet and the reader; he has spilled blood and all is weeping while creation is realized. The son is coming into the world:
Appear, ray of maternal moon:
know the air, move the entrails;
hoped-for fountainhead, let out the hoarse
bellow: blind spear.["Childbirth"]
Hours later, years later, the son is
Gale-force tree, violent living earth:
for your waves my heart cleaves the light;
let the sleep that covers you be the impulse, my son;
I will be the eiderdown of the sleeping slope. ["Son"]
The poet eagerly searches for new expressions, new symbols, constant audacities in order to talk to the son. The triumph of life over death is present all the time:
Let eternal eternal flash spring forth for your eyes;
let my bleeding tenderness thrust toward your blood;
you are the farewell to my ripe brio;
like a harvest, son, I will live again in your wonder.["Son"]
Among the poets of the newest generation in our literature, the author of this book is, without doubt, one of the most serious and original. He has remarkable mastery of the language and of the technique of verse.
He possesses the gift of synthesis; he knows how to look and to sing without straying from the earth, from man, and from God, but always communicating a new and personal vision of poetry, created and sifted through his talent and inspiration.
The reader will delight in the color of his subjective descriptions of the earth, and will feel an oppression of imponderable sadness as he reads the "Second Sonata" in which the sweet figure of little "dandún" is evoked:
The shadow of death at the threshold stops.
Oh dandún, oh dandún, don't look at its face. ["Abyss"]
Strange, noble, pure, with the maturity of ears of grain ready for the mill, is the poetry of Rosenmann-Taub, who is definitely a rising star; a living lesson for so many poets who barely achieve a caricature of what true Poetry is – eternal, timeless, current." - Carlos René Correa
David Rosenmann-Taub, Poesiectomía: Epidramas de Vigencia Privada
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David Rosenmann-Taub, Quince: autocomentarios
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"The work of David Rosenmann Taub lies in a chest at the bottom of the sea. He lives in the United States, regarded as a genius, but in his own country few people know who he is. Many propose him for the Premio Nacional de Literatura (National Literature Prize), but to him it matters little. At the moment, he is preparing País Más Allá, the latest of his enigmatic books of poetry.
How I would like to have never been born,
free of all of yesterday, to have never been born,
to let time run, to have never been born. (...)
So as not to reflect upon myself, so as never to return,
my God, I would believe in You so as not to be. (From poem LXIII, from El Mensajero)
Unlocatable. Missing in action. A living legend. In the judgment of Armando Uribe, David Rosenmann Taub is really the person to whom the National Literature Prize should be given, but in Chile, nobody knows him.
As a child, he would dictate his ideas to his mother. “I’ve always written. I would characterize this love that I have for letters as a marriage. I am married to letters,” he reports, from the United States. During his youth, when he attended the Colegio Europeo and later the Liceo de Aplicación, his first poems were born, written during recess.
During those years, he wrote El Adolescente (in the literary magazine Caballo de Fuego, 1941) and the first volume of Cortejo y Epinicio. And from then on, all was silent creation and drive of erudition: he studied Spanish at the Instituto Pedagógico of the University of Chile and completed a series of courses in which he tried to capture the essence of life: botany, astronomy, anatomy, English, French, Portuguese, aesthetics, and art.
Many have labeled Rosenmann Taub’s work “mystical.” For that reason, it is not strange that the poetry of St. John of the Cross and Juana Inés of the Cross should be central in his work.
“They’re fundamental for the history of poetry, not for me. In John of the Cross, I observe the same thing as in Teresa de Ávila: a hallucinating mind, of supreme intelligence, far above life on the planet. Juana Inés of the Cross, in Primero Sueño, did an imitation of Góngora’s Soledades: what in Góngora achieves plastic ends, in her achieves conceptual ends. More than a poet, more than a woman, she is a force that beautifies everything,” he said several years ago, in one of the few interviews he has given to the press.
What do you think when it’s said that your poetic work is full of “secretism”?- "Secretism? I suppose that you’re referring to “hermetism.” At the risk of appearing pretentious: Would you say to Einstein, “Is there something of ‘secretism’ in your theory of relativity?” For those who don’t understand it, of course there is. To understand, even what makes up a salad, requires attention, and attention demands education. The inattentive reader will find any text hermetic, or, worse, he will believe that he has understood it."
In your poetry, which is the most important, the sound or the content?- "I will change the question slightly: which is more important, the form or the content? Content implies substance. You could ask the same question of a musician: “Which is more important: the sound or the content?” “Well,” he would tell you, “what happens is that the content is expressed in sound.” In appearance, form and content are two things. In reality, we’re only dealing with one. What has no content is worthless and useless. Everything is for the sake of meaning. Poetry, when it is poetry, expresses knowledge in the most essential form. Poetry, for me, is to know with exactitude. To know, that is, to grow. Otherwise, what is poetry for?"
How has your close association with music affected your poetry?- "Music and literature don’t influence me. It is my daily experience, my contact, easy or difficult, with existence that motivates me to write. To read something that excites me leads me to read more, not to write. The word “influence” – as one uses it in histories of literature, of music, of painting – is a diplomatic way of saying “theft.” If something is already written, if I agree with what I’ve read, I will recommend the text that I read, but I won’t write it again."
Did you ever feel comfortable in Chile?
- "Chile is the same as France, Spain, the United States: take away the facade and people behave the same: once in a while – I’d say once in a great while – they show enthusiasm and good will, and, more often, indifference. I felt comfortable in my country the same way as in New York or in Paris. Can one be comfortable anywhere? I feel good when I am with people whom I love and who love me; that has nothing to do with the place."
What do you think of the new generations of Chilean poets?- "Poetry is a phenomenon of the Earth. Chilean poetry is poetry when, beyond being Chilean, it’s poetry."
What are you currently preparing?
- "País Más Allá (Country Beyond) is a book that I’ve been writing all my life. It’s not the only book that I’ve worked on in this way. I’ve been hauling all my books along practically since I became aware of my vocation.
"One of the first things that I reflected on was the reason for growing. Why must my body wear away so that my mind can open up? A gradual shutting down of the life cycle, to produce a gradual opening up of the mental cycle. One must pay the price of growing with death.
"And what is the reason to remember? Each day we carry the corpse of the day before. Each day we experience this country: one’s own inner world is already far away. Our today will tomorrow be an unreachable landscape. Each instant recedes infinitely from ourselves, and we can only keep it through a relative memory. What we call the present is the most immediate past: when one grasps it as the present, it is already past. And, inevitably, a day will come on which, for each of us, to have participated in existence will be to have inhabited a country which is beyond us.
"Not only did I want to express this through the book. I set out to express what is the reason that it is this way for me. I have carried this book like my flesh and bones." - Interview with Franco Fasola
"Chilean poets speak of you as a cult writer. Does this image please you?- "I believe that art demands so much of the artist that there is no time to think of readers. And to think of readers is to sell oneself. Or rather, to betray oneself - I want for myself always to be the reader who approves of what I write, as being something indispensable.
"I would repeat the sentence of Paul Valéry: "I prefer, to many readers, one reader who reads me many times." Is a writer called a "cult writer" because he has a persistent group of readers? One thing is the art that endures in spite of everything and another thing is the art that is famous. In general, the public has no knowledge of the art that happens in its era; the public only gets that which, with "intelligent" promotion, sells. The values of an era are, one supposes, the saleable values of that era. "Values" are something else again. Curiously, what was read the most is what ends up read the least. What flattered and entertained the public follows them to the cemetery. The public's tastes get buried along with the public. And the authors who couldn't find a publisher, are, later on - after they die - the successes in the bookstores. I don't believe that any English publisher contemporary with James Joyce would have thought he was a novelist whose books would be published by the millions."
Do you accept that Chilean critics categorize you as a surrealist poet?- "I, a surrealist? The surrealists who created the movement, Breton and Éluard, have a certain intellectual worth. As poets, I must confess to you, I find them very poor. Éluard seems insignificant to me. Reverdy, who belonged to that movement, is more picturesque but basically just as poor as the others. I know there was a group of surrealists in Santiago..."
Jorge Cáceres, for example.
- "Perhaps, but I am sorry to tell you that I have never read him. Probably something by that group fell into my hands, and something took away my interest in reading them. A poet who is connected to surrealism - although, in reality, he created a different movement - was Vicente Huidobro. It's similar to the situation with Alfonsina Storni. She committed suicide. Huidobro didn't. But there are many ways to kill oneself. I knew and know many suicides who are going about healthily. Nevertheless, Vicente Huidobro is more of a poet than all the French surrealists. What is new, especially what wants to appear as new, ages very quickly. The surrealists promoted automatic writing. In any activity, to act automatically is dangerous. With the automatic one does not go very far. The term surrealism denotes, actually, to transcend apparent reality. True literature has always been surrealistic. Examples? Quevedo, Cervantes, Teresa de Ávila, Martín du Gard, Miró, Thackeray, Ecclesiastes, Murasaki, Bunin, Proust, Sarmiento. To be fair: surrealism wanted to give weight to madness, to the act of letting oneself be carried away by madness. In that sense it was right, because the world wants to be crazy and it practices unrestrained madness."
To what do you attribute your isolation and your rejection of Chilean literary circles?- "For many years my family needed my help. I had to work very hard. I didn't have time for literary circles. What little time I preserved was consumed by my poetry and my music. In the 1970s, when Chile ceased to be Chile, I moved to the United States. I knew some Chilean writers - good people - who warned me against artistic milieus, since there is no incompatibility between being a "writer" and being a gangster. I remember, for example, Pedro Prado, Eduardo Barrios, Joaquín Ortega Folch, Luis Durand: beautiful people. I remember Antonio de Undurraga, generous, enterprising, almost heroic. I remember Augusto Iglesias. I knew that he was one of the members of the jury that awarded me the Premio Municipal, and I went to thank him. He said: "You don't know how many people I have fought with, but I liked your book, and good books are rare. I imagined that you were a much older man. The fact that you are a young man makes the prize all the more justifiable. I am glad to have fought for it." And when I attended the award ceremony, I received a lot of aggression. A writer, a good man and talented as well, Manuel Rojas, sensed the negative atmosphere and said to me: "You are with me, don't worry." He was tall and tough. But there were also men who were as optimistic as they were generous. Armando Uribe, with his great curiosity and exquisite sensibility; Jorge Hübner, Miguel Arteche, Carlos René Correa, Luis Merino Reyes, all of them modest, open to tradition and to the new. But I had very little time for participating in literary circles. That is still the case. My creative work does not permit me to do so. A true artist is a surgeon who never abandons an operation in the emergency room."
Could you define your poetic work?
- "There is an idea about poetry as a literary text. That is a very limited view of what poetry is. Poetry is in everything. My poetry is what I extract from the poetry of life. And what is the poetry of life? The reason, if there is one, for the non-reason of existence. That is one level. Other levels you will be able find in one of the books that I am going to publish, in which I comment on some of my poems."
You once mentioned a housemaid who robbed you of a large number of poems. Were you able to retrieve some of those texts from memory?- "Yes, it was a theft. But I could recover some of what was stolen: dreaming has been a great friend. In dreams I have succeeded in rescuing some poems. But they represent a very small proportion of what was lost. In this way, I fully recovered "De Ceniza", a poem which I much regretted having lost. In that poem I wanted to express that to fear for the life of the being we love is only a little less terrible than to lose that being. There do not exist, for me, temples other than those which we build by means of reciprocal love. And, of course, they are temples of fulfillment. The lack of this love - loving someone who loves me - is what, in my judgment, leads to the building of temples which contain only emptiness. And in my parents I inhabited that divine temple. The war in Europe had just broken out; we had received horrible news from the very few relations of ours who remained there. My father fell ill with desperation. I saw the powerlessness of my mother. The thermometer showed a very high temperature. I suffered the terror of the possibility of my father's death. I was twelve years and four months old, but consciousness has no age, and my external internal eyes contemplated another war: that of my father battling with the omnipotent enemy. I wanted a poem which would be worthy of my father. My father recovered. I had him with me for many years; I continue adoring him. My invisible temple, before, was visible; now it is only invisible. Invisible temples do not need gods, because they are gods."
Why add commentaries to the poems? You speak of "assisting in the understanding": do you believe your poetical world is not easily accessible?- "You can read in a few days, at leisure, Dante's Divine Comedy; but if you expect to read it truly, you would need to have recourse to information; one doesn't live long enough to read the serious bibliography concerning Dante and, even so, many points remain obscure. What a pity that Dante did not write commentaries. If you think of Adolphe or The Magic Mountain or the poems of Baudelaire, what is of real value in these works? The value of a work is in the timeless knowledge that it gives us: the greater precision of individual experience. If it does not give us that, it offers us very little or nothing. It is not a matter of my work being not easily accessible but rather of providing more access to it. Commentaries, when they are serious, aid in entering into the knowledge of the essence of the work. Books that deserve to be read require clarifications."
In this task of commenting on your work there is also the job of rewriting; is poetry also a constant job of correction?- "For me, always, writing has taken a lot of time: it is not an easy task and I believe that when it is easy it is not worth the trouble. In any activity of life it is marvelous to have the opportunity to be able to perfect. In daily life, at least, we are unfortunately not able to go back to the same situation and prevent a failure from having taken place. Rarely do life's circumstances permit us to perfect something. Art has this possibility."
I know that you studied music for a long time as a complement to poetry.- "No, I didn't study music to supplement the poetry. I studied music for the sake of the poetry and for the sake of the music. I had marvelous teachers: my mother, who taught me from when I was two years old, and, much later on, Olga Cifuentes and Roberto Duncker, who taught me piano. I studied harmony, counterpoint, and composition with Pedro Humberto Allende, in my judgment the greatest of South American composers. I have already recorded, privately, more than a hundred CDs of my own pianistic work. I want to make it clear that it was not a matter of nourishing my poetry. Poetry is not just a written phenomenon, it is also an oral phenomenon. Poetry and music are arts in which time is transformed into space, as painting and sculpture are arts in which space is transformed into time. One must not confuse the written text or the score with the happening of the work. The greater part of the music that I know, I listened to with a score in order not to depend on the interpreter. A poem is a score. A sonnet and a sonata happen in terms of sound. How to understand a musical work without hearing it? How to understand a poem without hearing it? One must not forget that most music and most poetry are neither poetry nor music. I also studied anatomy and botany, I audited courses in astronomy; mathematics and physics interest me deeply. But my poetry is my experience. To do anything correctly which produces benefit, which gives more knowledge, which has nothing to do with perversity, to do something good well - that, for me, is art."
When you left Chile in the Seventies, if I am not misinformed, you decided to leave for the United States to study oriental sciences.- "I received a grant from the Oriental Studies Foundation, but that foundation did not award me the grant for oriental studies. It was a grant without any requirement of that kind. Under the auspices of this foundation, in the 1970s I gave lectures, in New York and California, about my poetry and about Juan de la Cruz, Juana Inés de la Cruz, Monet, Vermeer, Beethoven, Ravel, Albéniz."
What are the differences between the Chile that you left after the fall of Allende and the country that you chose as your place of residence?- "For me the United States is a refuge in which I can work with very few distractions."
What is your political and social vision of your country?- "Look, the world is one house. If you find yourself in the bedroom, but the living room is on fire, would you tell me that you feel comfortable in the bedroom? Nothing is solved if everything is fine in Latin America and bad in Europe, or fine in Africa and bad in Asia. If the whole world is not fine, the whole world is badly off. How can one talk about Latin America and Europe?: a family is a family; I can't say that I am well just because I am well; if I am well and others are ill, I am ill myself. As long as the whole family is not in order, I would say that I am in bad shape. This is a planet where there are human beings, not Chileans or Argentines or French. To speak of white, black, yellow, Anglo-Saxons, Arabs, Latin Americans, Jews, is artificial. What is natural is that we have a head, a trunk, and extremities." - Interview with Lautaro Ortiz
"Within the diversity that Chilean poetry has shown for much of this century, there is a phenomenon that attracts the attention. That is, the continuity of a tradition that spans at least the last eighty years of the poetry written in Chile, and is a phenomenon that cannot be envisioned in other latitudes where continuity has been lost. In Chile, the richness of the poetry is unquestionable and by the same token is a vast subject to tackle.
In this brief space at our disposal, we will concentrate on the work of three poets: David Rosenmann-Taub, Alberto Rubio, and Guillermo Trejo. Although the work of each of them has taken different turns, at some moment they collected similar influences. This can be seen as much in the way they treat the Spanish language in writing their texts as in the perspective and unity that their books present.
We shall begin these notes with David Rosenmann-Taub (1927), a mythical and almost unknown figure. Among his multiple activities he has been a professor of comparative literature and Spanish grammar, besides being a teacher of piano, harmony and counterpoint. A grant awarded by the Oriental Studies Foundation keeps him away from Chile and allows him to continue producing his books. In Trilce (Poesía chilena, 1960-1965), Armando Uribe Arce presents the poetry of David Rosenmann-Taub: "What is the secret of this poet whose deep contradictions unfold in the depths, and who offers a surface more polished than that of any other Chilean poet, a wisdom of the verb and of the noun and a deftness of the adjective that no one matches? He says in a poem in this review: 'beget me again'. Has he created himself? Perhaps he has. His first book, Cortejo y Epinicio, was probably the major revelation of the decade of the fifties, although actually its colophon indicates that it was published on December 20, 1949. Its LXVII poems include some written when the author was eleven or twelve years old and demonstrate the same prodigious formal perfection, the awareness of knowing what is said and why it is said: the complete mastery of an adult."
In an interview given to Malú Sierra, David Rosenmann-Taub speaks to us of the poet as bard, in the sense of augury, of prophecy. "When poetry contains an element of knowledge that goes beyond immediate knowledge, where through the voice of the poet the whole of the human being is speaking, that is a bard." He then states: "The author does not matter at all; what matters is the work. You, like me, in some time more will be ashes. But what we make of ourselves, our truth (if we have been capable of following it), is the only thing that will endure."
According to David Rosenmann-Taub, every life is a path, but in most cases it is a wrong path or a dead end. The point is to find one's own path. So, as each individual has his own finger prints, he also has his own route. The only route for him.
In one of his most remarkable poems, Rosenmann-Taub says:
How I would like to be that dark marsh,
free of yesterday, what a relief, dark marsh,
to let time flow like that dark marsh.
How I would like never to have been born,
free of yesterday, never to have been born,
to let time flow, never to have been born.
How I would like to be able to die now,
free of yesterday, to be able to die now,
to let time flow, to be able to die now.
How I would like to roll through emptiness,
free of yesterday, to roll through emptiness,
to let time flow, to roll through emptiness.
How I would like to be the naught of dust,
free of yesterday, to be the naught of dust,
to let time flow, to be the naught of dust.
To not remember myself, to never return,
my God, I would believe in you in order not to be...
And what am I if not the son - burning - of death.
Oh mother, you worry about your hurting son,
and you carry him off to sleep so innocently
that your innocence hurts like a pure scream,
that your rest hurts like awakened fingernails...[From the poem: "Ciénaga" ("Marsh").]
Mysterious and wrenching poetry in which there are constant references to death, to pain and even despair, taking daily life as a starting point.
The presence of God:
Between the wardrobe and the bed, God looks at me.
I must be silent.Search and reflection:
Why do I undress? Why do I come near? Why, holding back tears
and blood, do I write this? [Los Despojos del Sol, Ananda Primera (The Spoils of the Sun, First Ananda): Poems VII and IV]
The well-known critic Alone in his time saw him as a forerunner, able to shake up the routine of twenty or thirty years. It has been said that Rosenmann-Taub's poetry is, first and foremost, hermetic and obscure, but I would dare to assert, along with Hernán del Solar, that "Poetry called hermetic, as we have very often realized, opens up once we force it, and then it speaks to us with complete clarity."
"In prose, I have lived two experiences that are above all others: the Gospels of Christ and the first volumes of Proust. The Gospels in the translation of Cipriano de Valera: the best of Spanish literature. In each paragraph Spanish is purified to the maximum." "I have not encountered myself in any writer. That is why I have written." Although he was reluctant to accept influences of other writers, we believe that at certain moments his voice can be related to that of the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin.
For some he is an invention, and for others, like Kenneth Douglas of Yale University, he is one of the greatest poets of all time. David Rosenmann-Taub is a living myth, who has published a large part of this work outside of the country. In Chile his books cannot be found.
Fish look for water.
Men look for the light.
Let us hope that his poems continue through the labyrinth of time in search of the light." - Francisco Véjar