“Whitman, we are your epitaph, I and everyone / or better yet, you live in us since you told us / that each atom of your body was also ours, / just as we, like you, are the summer’s and all the seasons’ grass,” Luis Alberto Ambroggio writes in this poetic homage to the great American poet.
Ambroggio was inspired to respond to Whitman’s work after translating a series of essays about Song of Myself. This collection of 53 poems in English and Spanish is the result. Sometimes he includes a line from the master in his own piece, other times an epigraph introduces the verse. Either way, Whitman’s influence is notable. Many of Ambroggio’s poems—like Whitman’s—deal with physical pleasure: “To stretch myself out on your body. / Outspread myself from head to toes / from earth to sky / from my body to yours, and to other bodies / with libidinous prongs that pierce the horizon / and turn loose seas of bright juice.”
A native of Argentina, the poet views Whitman’s work through his Latin American lens, noting that Whitman’s “multitudes” include those who will not be denied, ignored or declared undocumented.
Other poems consider nature and death. “We are walking in autumn / among the red lips of maples / the smiles and yellow tears / of trees trembling with joy and sadness,” he writes. “We walk between the twin doors / of summer and winter / of death and life.”
Focusing on themes of identity, love and life, this collection will inspire readers to understand the universality in us all. Ultimately, we will all go to where we came from, “air, shadow, sun, dust.” Originally published in Spanish by Vaso Roto Ediciones, this edition includes the original Spanish text and a luminous English translation by Brett Alan Sanders.