281 CHRONICLESnPaz by Fred ChappellnOPINIONSn”Amazed at the moment’s peak,nResh became word—and the word fell.”n— Octavio Paz, A Draft of ShadowsnThe Collected Poems of OctavionPaz, 1957-1987, edited by EliotnWeinberger, New York: NewnDirections.nConvergences: Essays on Art andnLiterature by Octavio Paz, SannDiego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.nUpon a confirmed gringo like me,ncontemporary Spanish languagenpoetry makes much the same impressionnas contemporary Spanish or LatinnAmerican concert music. Broad prairiesnof cadenza enclose a garden patch ofnmelodic theme, an orotund thunder ofnflourish results in a brief shower ofnsubstance. The treacherous mellifluousnessnof Spanish cloaks even the mostnshocking and brutal of utterance with anlyric sangfroid. For some intangible reason,nit becomes hard to take Spanishnnnlanguage literature as seriously as othernmodern literatures. There is no solidnreason that the works of Heinrich Bollnand William Golding should be betternknown than those of Pio Baroja—butnthey are.nThis supranational critical neglectnhas endured for a long time now, butnthere is a possibility that in our timenthree writers may have restored somenmeasures of justice to the appreciationnof Latin American literature. Thesenwriters are Jorge Luis Borges, GabrielnGarcia Marquez, and Octavio Paz.nThis trio of names will irritate Paz.nHe does not count Brazilian writers ornthe Portuguese language as belongingnto the Latin American tradition. He isnfed up to the teeth — like most of hisncolleagues—with the name of Borges,nbut perhaps he does not recognize thatnfor many of us much of the importancenof Borges lies in the fact that he wasndenied the Nobel Prize because of hisnconservative political views. That injusticenstill rankles even in my ownnbleeding-heart liberal breast. And Inthink that Paz would not like to findnhimself designated as standard bearerntor Latin American literature if therenwere any hint of programmatic insularitynor provincialism connected with thatnhonor.nOctavio Paz is quite consciously anglobal poet, one whose reputation isnunhobbled by national boundaries. Wenhave had precious few poets with suchnmagnitude of repute since the time ofnPound, Eliot, and Auden. StephennSpender is still with us, and in thenUnited States we have Robert PennnWarren; Russia boasts ofYevtushenko,nbut his work is not much respected bynother poets. And these are about all thenworld class bards we have on hand,naren’t they?nPerhaps not—but in whatever list wenFred Chappell’s most recent book isnSource (Louisiana State UniversitynPress).n