The Poet in Danger of Extinction

Homero Aridjis



– The poet is in danger of extinction –

said the man with the moustache.


–The poet is someone from another age

who wanders through the day saying things

nobody understands – said the woman.


–While your bricklayer falls off a building,

the poet calls to us in the dead

language of mankind –said he shopkeeper.


–The poet writes books nobody

wants to read or sell or publish–

said the Professor.


–We ought to form a society

to protect these poets

in danger of extinction– said the woman.



–Baudelaire never was that popular–

said the man with the moustache.


–Dante, after seven hundred years

hardly anybody reads him– said the woman.


–Gongora– after the revival and reappreaisal

is ignored all over again – said the Professor.


–What can we do so the public gets to know

poets better? – asked the shopkeeper.


–Nothing, absolutely nothing – said the poet.


–Didn’t they say this was the type of person

who was already in danger of extinction? –

asked the man with the moustache.



The poet said:

String moons

through the smoggy streets;

in the world of communication

reach out through the dead languages;

in a marketplace of goods

that are smelled, pawed over, eaten

or shelved for a thousand years,

touch the body of a woman who never was.

See, in front of my bedroom window

the poet, my double, dodge between the cars,

like an animal in danger of extinction.




Aridjis, Homero. "The Poet in Danger of Extinction." Trans. George McWhirter. Eyes to See Otherwise: Selected Poems = Ojos, de otro mirar. Eds. Betty Ferber and George McWhirter. New York: New Directions, 2002.

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