Rafael Cadenas
Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Cabot Black

You appear,you undress,you enter the light,you wake the colors,you crown the waters,you begin moving through time like a liqueur,you finish off the most blinding of shores,you predict if the world will continue or fall,you conjure the earth to keep pace with your molten slowness,you reign in the center of this conflagrationand from the firstto the seventh dayyour body an arrogant                                            palacewhere lives                          the                                   tremor. YouTú apareces,tú te desnudas,tú entras en la luz,tú despiertas los colores,tú coronas las aguas,tú comienzas a recorrer el tiempo como un licor,tú rematas la más cegadora de las orillas,tú predices si el mundo seguirá o va a caer,tú conjuras la tierra para que acompase su ritmo a tu lentitud de lava,tú reinas en el centro de esta conflagracióny del primeroal séptimo díatu cuerpo es un arrogante                                            palaciodonde vive                        el                              temblor.

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Rafael Cadenas (Barquisimeto, 1930) is a Venezuelan poet, translator, and educator. He formed part of the “Tabla Redonda” group in the early sixties, when he was active in the Communist Party of Venezuela. He was imprisoned and exiled during the dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez, and he took refuge on the island of Trinidad until 1957. He has published the books Los cuadernos del destierro (1960), Falsas maniobras (1966), Memorial (1977), Intemperie (1977), Anotaciones (1983), Amante (1983), Dichos (1992), Gestiones (1992), Apuntes sobre San Juan de la Cruz y la mística (1995), and En torno a Basho y otros asuntos (2016). He received a Guggenheim grant in 1986 and an Honoris Causa doctorate from the Central University of Venezuela. His work has been awarded several important prizes, including the Premio Nacional de Ensayo in 1984, the Premio Nacional de Literatura in 1985, the Premio San Juan de la Cruz in 1991, the Premio Internacional de Poesía Ciudad de Granada Federico García Lorca in 2016, and the Reina Sofia Iberoamerican poetry prize in 2018.

Sophie Cabot Black has three poetry collections from Graywolf Press, The Misunderstanding of Nature, which received the Poetry Society of America’s First Book Award, The Descent, which received the 2005 Connecticut Book Award, and most recently, The Exchange. Her poetry has appeared in numerous magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review.

"The Venezuelan poet Rafael Cadenas has always worked at the nexus between spiritual and political life, and in this marvelous collection he gives us ‘a song so loving it can never vanish.'"
—Edward Hirsch

"Rafael Cadenas’ stirring poems, brought to us here in English by an array of translators, remind us of the scope, mystery and power of great poetry. They are both cosmic and erotic — attuned to the tremors of the body of the beloved as well as the rhythms of our cherished earth. He proposes a beautiful sort of physics of memory, unconfinable by time, exile, borders and boundaries. We need these kinds of visionaries."
—Amy Gerstler

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