Guillermo Fernández

FOREWORD TO La orilla desierta

There is a strong pessimism in certain poetry today
. When it is no longer possible to flirt with ideas of celebration, as it was granted to Walt Whitman or Saint John Perse, the task of the poet, faced with his reality, cannot but become more obscure and more difficult, let alone be coherent. That is the case with Carlos Barbarito, whose work, although it has a peculiar biblical tone, does not precisely grant the consolations of the psalmist.

The eye of Barbarito, fragmented in visions like broken mirrors, is only capable of giving account of what it perceives: a chaos of things without goal in the universe. Sometimes there is beauty, but only as a contrast to the tragic atmosphere that the res extensa of the world happens to be, its foundation and cement. A fatalistic materialism weighs on his verse that expresses the incurable idea of a cosmological deterioration, not as the cruelty of time, but as a stain on our own existence.

Barbarito's poetry is about disillusion, but disillusion treated without solemnity or philosophy. The Argentine poet knows how to let the tone of an entire epoch resound through the commonplace. The simplest elements suffice to work that wonder: "And the air and the water impoverish, lose height and measurement...". A sensorial and painful review ends up in letting the creator embark on a quest without something to hold on to: "I knock and there is no answer,/ hands and hands, stained with moss,/soot and rust". Everywhere, impurity is the visible sign of civilization that obscures and desacralises the world. Guilt pervades everything that is natural and confers it thattexture of deep human decay.

In consonance with the poetical tradition according to which man and woman have lost each other, Barbarito is the melancholic singer of how that loss is perceptible in each act andobject in our environment. Winds sweeping ashes, worm-eaten fruits, women tinkling fluids of fear, desire without skin, love incarcerated... Life lives a nightmare and everything is a cogwheel in the machinery of a disastrous mistake!

Barbarito's verse is consistent with such utter hopelessness: it does not wallow in pain like Vallejo's verse, but fights against its own perplexity, desperately looking, perhaps, for the same secret clarity emanating from the impotent questions posed to "the error installed in the world".

© Guillermo Fernández, San José de Costa Rica, Ediciones Andrómeda, 2003. Arte de Fabio Herrera

Reactions: guest book or mail to Carlos Barbarito.