The Desert of Atacama VI

By Raúl Zurita b. 1951 Raul Zurita

Translated By Anna Deeny

Arid plains do not dream
             No one has ever managed to see
             Those chimerical pampas

i.   The landscapes are convergent and divergent in the
    Desert of Atacama

ii.  Over the convergent and divergent landscape Chile
     is convergent and divergent in the Desert of Atacama

iii.  That's why what's there never was there and if it
     were to stay where it is it would see its own life turn
     around until being the chimerical plains   deserted
     enlightened   fading away like them

iv.  And when the convergent and divergent landscapes
     of the Desert of Atacama unfold themselves
     all of Chile will have been the life beyond   because
     unlike Atacama they are already extending themselves
     like a dream the deserts of our own chimera
     over there in these plains of hell

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

Source: Purgatory (University of California Press, 2009)

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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 . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION Latin America

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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