50 Years Ago in These Pages: Symposium on Octavio Paz

Paz receiving the 1982 Neustadt Prize from University of Oklahoma president William Banowsky

“I wonder—once more, now, when everything seems about to go up in flame again—if there is a place for a poem in this uproar, in this confusion of sonorities that surround us like islands everywhere crowding in upon the sea.

Perhaps poetry is another office of darkness, a streaked disc that multiplies, until they come apart, the voices of the great enchanters, dead a century at a time when, newly humanized, God buried God and uttered not a see-you-later but a definitive good-bye. . . .

Appearances are beautiful in their momentary truth. Words are born in the visible center of the earth. Bodies renew their joy. The sun stone lights up streets that do not yet exist. Night dissolves in the sea. Dawn is flooded with birds. Dawn-like, worlds rise over the transparency of space and the shadow of the wind over the water. And suddenly, between stillness and vertigo, the present is perpetual.”

—José Emilio Pacheco, “Minimum Homage to Octavio Paz,”
Books Abroad 46, no. 4 (Autumn 1972): 608