Los Heraldos Negros

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Peru: Message Center for Peru RPCVs: Los Heraldos Negros

By Hughpickens (Hughpickens) on Sunday, May 06, 2001 - 1:07 pm: Edit Post

I was looking through some old photos from Peace
Corps days the other night and I came across a photo
that made me remember some of the things I had
forgotten about what it was like to be a volunteer
in Peru in the early 1970's.

My work in the Peace Corps was to teach courses
to high school science teachers on how
they could build and use simple lab equipment
so they could give classroom demonstrations to teach
their students more effectively.

The photo below is taken from the graduation of
one of our science classes where I am standing
with collegues and with functionaries of the Ministry
of Education. The photo was taken in Huancayo
about 1970.


The highlight of every course was the graduation
ceremony. It was customary to provide entertainment
at the ceremonies. I would pull out my guitar and
sing "The Boxer" by Paul Simon but the other
participants would far outshine me by performing
dramatic recitations of poetry.

I had always hated memorizing poetry in high school and
couldn't understand why we were forced to do it.
But the dramatic recitations of poetry in both
public and private gatherings in Peru is something
I learned to cherish and respect. It was something
I wanted to learn to do myself.

When I asked my students who the most notable
Peruvian poets were - their universal reply was
Cesar Vallejo. Born in Cajamarca in 1892
he lived a hard life, dying unknown in a Paris hospital
of tuberculosis in his early 40's. Since his death
he has come to be known as one of the giants
of 20th century poetry.

For me his poems seem to distill the sense
of fatalism that permeates life of the poor
in the Andes.There is one poem called
"Los Heraldos Negros" that I can recite
to this day. It is a short poem of
powerful imagery that I have begun to
understand more and more as I have
grown older.

I know I have been blessed with my time
in Peru if for no other reason than for the
opportunity to know and appreciate works
of literature like Cesar Vallejo's.

Los Heraldos Negros

Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes ... ¡Yo no sé!
Golpes como del odio de Dios; como si ante ellos,
la resaca de todo lo sufrido
se empozara en el alma... Yo no sé!

Son pocos; pero son... Abren zanjas obscuras
en el rostro más fiero y en el lomo más fuerte.
Serán talvez los potros de bárbaros atilas;
o los heraldos negros que nos manda la Muerte.

Son las caídas hondas de los Cristos del alma,
de alguna fe adorable que el Destino blasfema.
Esos golpes sangrientos son las crepitaciones
de algún pan que en la puerta del horno se nos quema.

Y el hombre... Pobre... pobre! Vuelve los ojos, como
cuando por sobre el hombro nos llama una palmada;
vuelve los ojos locos, y todo lo vivido
se empoza, como charco de culpa, en la mirada.

Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes... Yo no sé!

By Miriam on Thursday, September 18, 2003 - 5:22 pm: Edit Post

I was looking for information about Vallejo and Los Heraldos Negros, and I think your review is very interesting, I will try to recite this poem in properly manner next Saturday, in a kind of Course of Drama that I am taking.
Saludos desde Argentina,

Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.