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This review is taken from PN Review 67, Volume 15 Number 5, May - June 1989.

DREAMS OF HELL AND EXILE On the Cutting Edge, selected poems by Justo Jorge Padrón, translated from the Spanish by Louis Bourne, Forest Books, London
Boston Anthology of Latin American Poets in London, bilingual text. El grupo de escritores latinoamaricanos, London

Justo Jorge Padrón makes all the gestures of the great poet. His themes are vast and their treatment grandiose: Love, terror, loneliness and the loss of a childhood paradise prevail, and in his most powerful collection The Circles of Hell, Padrón descends into even greater depths of despair. He is an obsessed poet, who writes in a loose, rhetorical, generally hendecasyllabic vers-libre, much practised by Spanish language poets in the Fifties and Sixties, and even by such masters as Neruda and Aleixandre, when they lapsed into repetitiveness. Louis Bourne, in his introduction, tries to place Padrón in the new post-Franco generation of Antonio Colinas and Jaime Siles, but has to admit his kinship with an earlier poet, Francisco Brines with whom he shares gloomy introversion. Indeed Padrón dedicated his second book of poems to Brines.

A quotation from The Circles of Hell shows Padrón's characteristic nightmare vision:


A huge eye enfolds me in its lashes,
Cuts off the outer light,
Draws me impetuously into its solar depths.
There, in its perfect circle,
History's raging animals torment me:
The shark, with its violent and shadowy finning,
The tiger, with eyes like bullets in flight,
Like the horror of a deadly purpose, the panther;
With a bloody avalanche of wind and talons, the eagle,
And the snake with its poised ice of hate...
And behind the long shadow of an endless dream,
The dark ...


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