One of Latin America’s foremost literary figures, Homero Aridjis was born in Contepec, Michoacan, Mexico. Many of his forty-two books have been translated into fifteen languages and recognized with important literary prizes in Mexico, Italy, France, the United States and Serbia. Formerly Mexican Ambassador to Switzerland, The Netherlands and UNESCO, during six years he was International President of PEN International and is now President Emeritus. As founder (in 1985) and president of the Group of 100, an environmentalist association of writers, artists, and scientists, he has received awards from the United Nations, the Orion Society, Mikhail Gorbachev and Global Green USA and the Natural Resources Defense Council. He has been a visiting professor at Indiana, New York, and Columbia universities and the University of California (Irvine). The recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships, since 1985 he has written regularly about politics, literature and the environment on the editorial pages of the principal Mexican newspapers. His most recent books are the novel Esmirna en llamas, Noticias de la Tierra (with Betty Ferber), a collection of his writings and work on the environment and Tiempo de ángeles/A Time of Angels (poetry). Eyes to See Otherwise (New Directions), Solar Poems (City Lights) and 1492 The Life and Times of Juan Cabezon of Castile (University of New Mexico Press) are among books available in English.
A TIME OF ANGELS
And God said: ‘Let an angel be made.’
And the angel was made out of words.
And man said: ‘Let the angel be made
out of the words within.
Let the angel be in the likeness of my spirit.’
And God said: ‘Each man shall have
an angel in heaven
in his own image and likeness,
and when he dies, let him be one with it.’
And man said: ‘If God will not create an angel,
the imagination should,
for if there is a void between God and I,
there can be no communicating between us.
It is meet that a spirit
between heaven and earth,
between the visible and the invisible,
between matter and the spirit’.
God said: ‘Man is come late
for the time of gods
and early to be a being;
the angel arrived in time
for the two.’
Man said: ‘Then,
an angel is a body
which joins a being to the gods,
a bridge uniting
the look with what is looked at.’
God said: ‘So that angels and men
may understand each other,
let the angels on earth
speak in the language of men
and men when they dream
speak in the language of angels
because there is an original tongue
which angels of all ages and all races
which is composed of poetry.’
Man said: ‘Then, an angel knows
when it stands before another angel,
not by what they display or say,
but by the light coming from their eyes.’
Said God: ‘Angels cannot be seen
by the eye for they are in our eyes’.
Said man: ‘Then, the angel
we search the world for
is within us, is us.’
God said: ‘Once he has met up
with himself, a man may be the angel
he has sought throughout the world.
For the bodies of the two are wrought
out of the words within’.
Man said: ‘The angel I do not see,
who goes with me, but does not see me,
is what I shall be when I die.’
God said: ‘Let the angel of man
have a life far beyond him,
let it rise out of his corpse
and come into its true existence.
Let the angel have whatever form
man wishes it.’
Said man: ‘Then, the body
of an angel is what
the imagination makes of it,
the angel painted on my back,
the angel tattooed on my arms
will cover my back
and stand guard over my arms.
One day it will be the likeness of myself.’
And God said: ‘Let the angel
in this time of darkness that is coming
be a messenger of light.
Let the angel be the equal of man.
For this is a time of angels.’