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The Black Heralds

The Black Heralds


by César Vallejo

Stanza 3 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 9-10

They are the deep falls of the Christs of the soul,
of some adored faith blasphemed by Destiny.

  • Here is that religious imagery that we mentioned earlier. Now the Christs (notice the plural) are falling. This is a really wild image, so let's break it down.
  • First off, what are the "Christs of the soul"? They could refer to Jesus Christ (in fact, they do refer to Jesus Christ in an allusion), but that pesky "s" at the end makes them plural. So that clues us in that the poet is getting after something more than the historical and religious figure. 
  • The "Christs of the soul" are probably figurative—they probably stand in for whatever we believe in, whether it's Big Macs or our big brother. Anything we might have faith in could be considered a Christ of the soul. 
  • Apparently, though, they have gravity issues. So, why do they fall? Well, in Catholic tradition, on his way to be crucified, Jesus Christ stumbled and fell three times. This is the person who was claiming to be the Son of God, and now he was being beaten and humiliated, falling on his way to be executed. That's a "deep fall" if we've ever heard of one. 
  • So the "deep falls of the Christs of the soul" can be seen as things we hold dear, but are being knocked off their pedestals. Maybe someone who idolizes their father and finds out he was actually a liar and a cheat would feel like someone who lost their faith. Maybe someone who believed that being good and honest was the way to go, but who ends up being punished for their honesty, might feel this way. 
  • Those deep falls are about the painful process of going through life with faith, but inevitably being disappointed.
  • Destiny really seems to be the enemy here. We mean, it blasphemes faith for cryin' out loud. This is kind of an interesting turn. Usually it's humans who blaspheme against God, but in this case Destiny is blaspheming against faith. It's like real life won't let us have faith, because it just keeps knocking it down.
  • See the "Allusions" section for more on this religious imagery.

Lines 11-12

Those bloodstained blows are the crackling of
bread burning up at the oven door.

  • The blows are back, and this time they're covered in blood. Um, ew.
  • So, up to here we've gotten images of suffering and disappointment, and suddenly we get hit with the metaphor of…a loaf of bread? What's up with that?
  • Well, imagine if you will:
  • You're hungry at the end of the day and can't wait for that fresh-baked loaf that's just about to come out of the oven. Just when you're pulling it out of the door it…burns. Womp womp. That is just the kind of disappointment the poem is talking about, but on a tiny, everyday scale.
  • Also, don't forget how important bread is to Christianity, since we've had all these Jesus images. The communion in Christian churches is about sharing bread, representing Christ's body, and here that bread, where all the hope is, gets burnt at the last second. Major bummer.
  • Check out the alliteration of the letter B here. See "Sound Check" for our take on all those b-words.

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