Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Mary, Persephone, Héloise, show me
your face that I may see at last
my true face, that of another,
my face forever the face of us all,
face of the tree and the baker of bread,
face of the driver and the cloud and the sailor,
face of the sun and face of the stream,
face of Peter and Paul, face
of this crowd of hermits, wake me up,
I've already been born:
- The speaker once again gives various names to his conversation partner: Mary, Persephone, Heloise. More allusions.
- But after reading the previous stanza, where everyone is part of everyone, we're starting to think it makes more sense that the lost lover has many names and no name at the same time.
- The speaker wants to see her face because that way he will be able to see his own—remember the philosophical riff from before, about how everyone is everyone?
- So it's only by seeing his beloved that the speaker can see himself. There is a lot of repetition of the word "face" in this the stanza, and a list of different types of faces of people and things, all of whom share one face.
life and death
make a pact within you, lady of night,
tower of clarity, queen of dawn,
lunar virgin, mother of mother sea,
body of the world, house of death,
I've been falling endlessly since my birth,
I fall in myself without touching bottom,
gather me in your eyes, collect
my scattered dust and reconcile my ashes,
bind these unjointed bones, blow over
my being, bury me deep in your earth,
and let your silence bring peace to thought
that rages against itself:
- This section refers to the various feminine figures alluded to earlier. Check out "Allusions" for a refresher.
- For the purposes of these lines, though, all you need to know is that Mary is the queen of the dawn and the virgin and Persephone is the lady of night and house of death. He's praying to them here, asking for help out of his sad predicament.
- The speaker talks as though he were already dead: "collect / my scattered dust and reconcile my ashes," asking his beloved to "bury me deep in your earth."
- Maybe he's throwing in the towel because he thinks that through death he can finally get back to the lost love.
your hand, lady of seeds that are days,
the day is immortal, it rises and grows,
it has just been born, its birth never ends,
each day is a birth, each dawn is a birth
and I am dawning, we are all dawning,
the sun dawns with the face of the sun,
John dawns with John's face,
the face of John that is everyone's face,
- Finally we return to Persephone, the "lady of seeds that are days," and after all the talk about death we get talk about birth. Ah, that's better.
- The speaker says that he is "dawning, we are all dawning" (in Spanish it makes more sense—the same word means something like "to wake up" and "to dawn") and mentions a John or "Juan"—this common name is probably used to represent everyman, sine his face is everyone's face.
door of being, dawn and wake me,
allow me to see the face of this day,
allow me to see the face of this night,
all communicates, all is transformed,
arch of blood, bridge of the pulse,
take me to the other side of this night,
where I am you, we are us,
the kingdom where pronouns are intertwined,
- This stanza is like a birth itself—the "door of being" and "arch of blood, bridge of the pulse" could very well describe the passage of a newborn from the womb to life.
- The last part focuses in on language—a confusion of I, you, we ("the kingdom where pronouns are intertwined") reflects the desire for universality that we have been seeing in the last few stanzas, which have claimed that we are all one.
- Note the repetition in Lines 545-546 of "allow me to see the face of this (day/night)." What effect does the repetition have on the speaker's message?