The Desert of Atacama V

By Raúl Zurita b. 1951 Raul Zurita

Translated By Anna Deeny

           Speak of the whistle of Atacama
           the wind erases like snow
           the color of that plain

i.   The Desert of Atacama soared over infinities of
     deserts to be there

ii.  Like the wind feel it pass whistling through the
     leaves of the trees

iii.  Look at it become transparent faraway   and just
     accompanied by the wind

iv.  But be careful: because if ultimately the Desert
     of Atacama where not where it should be the
     whole world would begin to whistle through the
     leaves of the trees   and when we'd see ourselves
     in the same never   transparent   whistles
     in the wind swallowing the color of this pampa

Raúl Zurita, "The Desert of Atacama V" from Purgatory, translated by Anna Deeny. Copyright © 2009 by Raul Zurita.  Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: Purgatory (University of California Press, 2009)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Raúl Zurita b. 1951

POET’S REGION Latin America

Subjects Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals


Raúl Zurita is one of Latin America’s most celebrated and controversial poets. After Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 US-supported military coup that ousted Salvador Allende’s democratically elected government, Zurita’s poetry sought to register the violence and atrocities committed against the Chilean people and the corruption of the Spanish language. During the dictatorship that lasted from 1973 to 1990, Zurita published a trilogy of . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION Latin America

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.