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Small Hours of the Night: Selected Poems of Roque Dalton

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Finally and gloriously here are the poems of Roque Dalton, one of the most compelling Central American poets it has been my privilege to read." -- Ariel Dorfman

"He was brilliant. His presence alone gave off light." -- Juan Gelman

[Dalton's poetry illustrates] his profound conviction that the poet can and must, in his life as in his work, serve as the finely-honed scalpel of change, both in word and deed..." -- Claribel Alegria

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Long overlooked in the U.S., Dalton was born in El Salvador in 1935. He joined the Communist Party and became a guerrilla in the El Salvadoran revolution, producing a massive body of poems before being murdered in 1973. The early poems, those from a young revolutionary, are full of extravagance: "I have this wild itch to laugh/ or kill myself" and "I don't believe in angels/ but the moon is now dead for me." As Dalton's poetry matures, his imagination ranges, sometimes recklessly, running from line to line without regard for negative space or silence, but never without passion. "Man uses his old disasters like a mirror./ An hour or so after dusk/ the man picks up the painful remnants of his day/ and worried sick he puts them right next to his heart/ he sweats like a TB patient fighting for his life/ and sinks into his deep lonely rooms." Many of the poems written in exile in Mexico and Cuba are manly, wine-drinking montages of life on the Communist edge. In the section "Tavern and Other Places," he is at his best: creatively illuminating the soul of his home country; cataloguing with humility his experiences as a soldier; and musing over some of his prisonmates, soldiers, friends and countrymen. Here Dalton achieves a ripe, formal confidence in which meaning and expression are fully integrated. The final, wry poems punch small holes in bourgeois religion, politics and life. This is the most comprehensive and scholarly edition of Dalton's poetry available in English.(Sept.)
Library Journal
Political activist and Marxist Dalton, one of the most widely read, admired, and influential Salvadoran writers of his time, was executed in 1975 at the age of 40. These combative poems, a retrospective from nine collections penned mostly during the turbulent 1960s, are his legacy. They enunciate in a direct, conversational tone the poet's preoccupation with social injustice. Deploying thematic constants, like death ("Learning how to die/ that's what life was") and water ("The water is like oblivion, always there"), Dalton weaves lines fraught with anguish and wrought with emotion. The six collaborators produced eloquent translations, a fitting sequel to the earlier Poems (LJ 8/84). Recommended for larger collections.Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781880684351
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1996
  • Pages: 228
  • Sales rank: 998,948
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Roque Dalton García (San Salvador, El Salvador, 14 May 1935 – Quezaltepeque, El Salvador, 10 May 1975) was a leftist Salvadoran poet and journalist. He is considered one of Latin America's most compelling poets. He wrote emotionally strong, sometimes sarcastic, and image-loaded works dealing with life, death, love, and politics.

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Table of Contents

Preface: I Remember Roque, Ernesto Cardenal
Preface: Roque Dalton: Poet and Revolutionary, Claribel Alegria
Preface: Love Falls Like a Generous Rain, Hardie St. Martin
Study with a Little Tedium2
The Crazy Ones3
Time for Ashes4
Hating Love5
My Horse8
Poems-In-Law to Lisa11
Dream Far Away from Time13
Vernacular Elegy for Francisco Sorto15
Minor Chorus of the Fifth Cell17
The Decision20
Island on the Fifth Floor21
Stillborn Parable24
The Bad Example25
Because I Spoke Out26
I See27
The Disciple29
The Tropics30
Naked Woman31
Maria Tecun32
The Art of Poetry34
Words in front of the Sea37
The Sixth Commandment39
What a Crazy Man Said to Me40
The Pope42
Old Woman with Small Boy43
Another Dead Woman44
Cesar Vallejo45
Small Hours of the Night47
The Bureaucrats48
Mariano the Musician Has Died49
Terrible Thing51
I Wanted52
The Sea56
Juan Cunjama, Sorcerer62
The Desert65
Rite for the Birth of a Flower on the Great Pyramid66
The Deer67
Homage to Sage69
My Country's Far Away72
Middle Age75
Passing the Factory77
Now You See Why78
When Death79
Tied Down to the Sea80
I Remember When I'd Talk of Lisa82
A Dead Girl in the Ocean83
The Prodigal Son86
German-American Hotel88
Latin America98
27 Years99
Soldier's Rest101
The Captain102
In a Fit of Anger103
The National Soul104
The Law Enforcer105
The Sure Hand of God106
Sir Thomas112
The Bishop113
Lady Ann114
The Firstborn114
Sir Thomas115
Sir Thomas117
Lady Ann120
The Firstborn120
Prison Again122
Preparing the Next Hour123
Independence Day125
Your Company127
I Smell Bad128
Bad News on a Scrap of Newspaper129
Permission to Wash Up130
Some Longings131
Number 357132
The Morning I Met My Father134
The Young People138
A Not Exactly Optimistic Tragedy139
Springtime in Jevani
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2000

    Small Hours of the Night, Roque Dalton

    Roque Dalton writes verse nearly as well as Pablo Neruda, but with the strength and often brutal conviction of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. It reads like a mix of 'The Hands of the Day' and 'The Motorcycle Diaries'.

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