Loneliness of Cities – Jorge Carrera Andrade

Without knowing my number,
enclosed by walls and borders,
I walk around with a prisoner’s moon
and perpetual shadow chained to my ankle.

Living frontiers arise
a step beyond my footsteps.

There is neither north nor south, east or west,
only a multiplied loneliness exists,
a loneliness divided by a cipher of men.
Time’s race around the circus of the clock,
luminous navels of streetcars,
bells with athletic shoulders,
walls that spell out two or three colored words,
are the materials of loneliness.

Image of solitude:
bricklayer singing on a scaffold,
fixed raft in the sky.
Images of solitude:
a traveler submerged in a newspaper,
a waiter hiding a photograph in his vest pocket.

The city has a mineral appearance.
Urban geometry is less beautiful
than the geometry we learned at school.
A triangle, egg, cube of sugar
initiated us into a celebration of forms.
Circumferences only came later:
the first woman, and the first moon.

Where were you, loneliness,
that I never knew you before I turned twenty?
On trains, in mirrors, in photographs,
you are always at my side now.

Country people are less alone
because they are one with the land:
trees are their sons,
they see weather changes in their own flesh,
and are taught by the saints’ calendar of little animals.

This solitude is nourished by books,
solitary walks, pianos, and fragments of crowds,
by cities and skies conquered by machines,
sheets of foam
unfolding toward the limits of the seas.
Everything has been invented,
but nothing has been invented to deliver us from loneliness.

Playing cards guard the secret of garrets,
sobs are formed to be smoked away in a pipe,
and there have been attempts to inter solitude in a guitar.
It’s known that loneliness walks through vacant apartments,
has commerce with the clothing of suicides,
and confuses messages in the telegraph wires.

Jorge Carrera Andrade ( 1902-1978 )

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