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Antonio Porchia (1886–1968) wrote one book, a slender collection of poetic aphorisms that became a classic in the Spanish-speaking world. With affinities to Taoist and Buddhist epigrams, Voices bears witness to the awe of human existence. Revised and updated with a new introduction by translator W.S. Merwin, this bilingual volume brings back...
Antonio Porchia (1886–1968) wrote one book, a slender collection of poetic aphorisms that became a classic in the Spanish-speaking world. With affinities to Taoist and Buddhist epigrams, Voices bears witness to the awe of human existence. Revised and updated with a new introduction by translator W.S. Merwin, this bilingual volume brings back into print one of Latin America’s great literary treasures.
He who tells the truth says almost nothing.
I know what I have given you. I do not know what you have received.
Only a few arrive at nothing, because the way is long.
Out of a hundred years a few minutes were made that stayed with me, not a hundred years.
When I come upon some idea that is not of this world, I feel as though this world had grown wider.
This world understands nothing but words, and you have come into it with almost none.
We become aware of the void as we fill it.
Antonio Porchia (1886–1968) was born in Italy. After his father died, he emigrated to Argentina with his mother and seven siblings, and as the eldest child, started working at the age of 14. He was self-taught, and his only book, Voices, caught the attention of a noted French critic who assumed him to be a scholar of Kafka and Buddhism, rather than the humble man who loved to tend his garden. Today, Porchia’s aphorisms are published in more than a dozen Spanish-language editions as well as in German, French and Italian.
W.S. Merwin’s awards include the Pulitzer Prize, the Tanning Prize, the Bollingen Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA. He is the author of dozens of books of poetry and translations. He lives in Hawaii.
Posted November 8, 2006
Antonio Porchia (1886 - 1968) emigrated from his native Italy to Argentina where he became somewhat of an enigmatic poet, a poet while recognized during his lifetime is growing in popularity now, much to the superb translations by W.S. Merwin. Oddly enough Porchia's output was limited to one book, so becoming an avid fan of his thoughts placed so carefully on the printed page takes only a small book (127 pages) to absorb. But what lines of beauty he created! Some examples: Suffering does not follow us. It goes before us. * More grievous than tears is the sight of them. * Would there be this eternal seeking if the found existed? Porchia's pregnant lines find a home in our minds, in our hearts, and give us encouragement and those particular words to share with our own psyches as well as the agonies of loved ones. He was a gifted writer and W.S. Merwin has done a fine job in reassuring us that his words remain alive. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.