Arte Poética by Vicente Huidobro

Poem by Vicente Huidobro

Music by Iván Lizama, performed by Ensamble Transiente – Música Experimental Latinoamericana (see YouTube for personnel)

Arte poética

Que el verso sea como una llave
Que abra mil puertas.
Una hoja cae; algo pasa volando;
Cuanto miren los ojos creado sea,
Y el alma del oyente quede temblando.

Inventa mundos nuevos y cuida tu palabra;
El adjetivo, cuando no da vida, mata.

Estamos en el ciclo de los nervios.
El músculo cuelga,
Como recuerdo, en los museos;
Mas no por eso tenemos menos fuerza:
El vigor verdadero
Reside en la cabeza.

Por qué cantáis la rosa, ¡oh Poetas!
Hacedla florecer en el poema;

Sólo para nosotros
Viven todas las cosas bajo el Sol.

El Poeta es un pequeño Dios.

Let poetry become a key
That opens a thousand doors.
A leaf falls; something flies past;
Let everything the eyes see be created,
And the listener’s soul keep trembling.

Invent new worlds and guard your word;
Unless it gives new life, the adjective kills.

We dwell in a circle of nerves.
Muscle hangs,
Like a memory, in museums,
But that doesn’t mean we have less strength.
True vigor
Comes from the head.

Poets! Why eulogize the rose?
Through the poem you can make it bloom.

Everything under the sun
Lives only for us.

The Poet is a little God.

My attempt at a translation. The last line became the slogan of the literary movement Huidobro founded, Creacionismo (“Creationism”).


  1. Reply
    Jean 29 April, 2009

    Nice. You might want to take another look at stanza three, line four. God, I must find time to listen to all this wonderful stuff!

    • Reply
      Dave Bonta 29 April, 2009

      Good call — thanks. My sloppy translating would appall me if I only possessed a sense of shame. :)

  2. Reply
    Suny 9 June, 2009

    Seria genial agregar una explicacion de lo que es el arte peotica y como se refleja en este poemas como en otros autores, Castellanos, Paz,….

  3. Reply
    Klaas 15 October, 2010

    But that’s not why we have less strength. is not the proper translation.
    Mas no por eso tenemos menos fuerza means: But this doesn’t mean we have less strength

    Nevertheless, what a great poem you’ve chosen!

  4. Reply
    Dave Bonta 15 October, 2010

    Thanks! That does make more sense than my version — maybe I’ll correct the post.

    It is interesting, isn’t it, that we can still catch a whiff of the excitement of modernist literary movements close to a century later. What a time that must have been.

  5. Reply
    martinwilliam2010 19 March, 2013

    Good translation! also, ciclo should be cycle instead of circle

  6. Reply
    Guadalupe Garcia McCall 15 December, 2019

    I would say that ciclo should be “season”

    And True vigor “resides” in the head

    And hacedla florence en el poema should be “Make her blossom in the poem.”

    Other than these… great job.

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