A Review of "Configurations" by Octavio Paz

A Review of "Configurations" by Octavio Paz

Bilingual Spanish/English Poetry


Octavio Paz a distinguished philosopher, anthropologist, critic, and poet. A native of Mexico, Mr. Paz insisted that poetry be its own voice, not the voice of ideology. For him poetry was not the voice of history or an anti-history, it was not the voice of propaganda and it was not the servile voice of something else. Poetry for Octavio Paz, was poetry and had a voice that was distinct throughout all of history and did not serve history.

     Configurations constitutes the first major publication of Octavio Paz's poetry into English. Numerous translators, in addition to the author, worked on this particular volume of poetry.  Translator variety ensures that the translations match as closely as possible the spirit and art of the original. Mr. Paz himself also performed some of the translations making the bilingual edition of Configurations one of the most interesting poetry books of the past century.

      Mr. Paz's poetry in this bilingual edition is flawless art. The images used are evocative, earthy, and at the same time surreal.  It is from the surreal that Mr. Paz seems to pull what is distinct and truly important about something.  He does this with great ease, and every poem is an expression of the overall artistic motive behind the poetry. The emotional content of his words echoes in the turn of phrase, especially in the later poetry in the volume.

      The Configurations of Ocatvio Paz ranks highly in the art of both Spanish and English poetry. Though it has been said that the powerful and erotic poetry is the expression of the rage and desires of a generation, it could be said that it is the expression of many generations. What generation does not rage? What generation does not have desires? All generations have these things, perhaps what Octavio Paz has done is the very great service of writing that rage and those desires down in understandable language and preserve it for future generations.