Analysis of Cesar Vallejo's Poem, Our Daily Bread (Translated by James Wright)


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Analysis of Cesar Vallejo's Poem, Our Daily Bread (Translated by James Wright)


I was in a turmoil when I read and reread "Our Daily Bread." This poem has a lot of emotions involved in it. Feelings of hunger, sadness, anger, guilt, and warmth are felt through out the poem.

In the first stanza, the speaker sets the scene with "Damp earth of the cemetery," "City of winter," "mordant crusade." Especially when the speaker speaks of "the fragrance of the precious blood," we feel coldness, loneliness and death. All through this poem, the speaker uses symbols to connect us with Jesus. The "precious blood" is a symbol of Jesus giving his life for us. If you look at it in a different way, the precious blood is the blood that drips down from Jesus' forehead from the crown of thorns. The phrase "and emotion of fasting that cannot get free" represents hunger and death.

The meaning behind "I wish I could beat on all the doors, and ask for somebody" -- if we think of the narrator as Jesus's voice -- is that Jesus wishes he could have reached more people who were in need. "Look at the poor, and, while they wept softly" is surely an emotion of guilt that he didn't reach as many people as he wanted to. Then he goes on with feeding the poor: "give bits of fresh bread." He turns his guilt to anger toward the rich by saying he would "plunder the rich of their vineyards."

Other symbols of Jesus dying for us is the blood and wine that our sins may be forgiven. The speaker uses "two blessed hands" -- Jesus's hands as they nailed him to the cross. "Blasted the nails with one blow of light" represents Jesus's crucifixion. As they nailed him to the cross, it grew dark, and his holy spirit "flew away from the Cross!" up to the heavens.

The speaker returns to the crucifixion with the phrase "every bone in me belongs to others." This is a symbol of Jesus dying for us. "Maybe I robbed them," he says. Jesus feels that he did not achieve his purpose as he continues: "I start to think that, if I had not been born, another poor man could have drunk this coffee."

"I feel like a dirty thief." This phrase conveys Jesus's feelings of betrayal that he robbed us by not fulfilling his goals.

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"Analysis of Cesar Vallejo's Poem, Our Daily Bread (Translated by James Wright)." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Feb 2018
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"Where will I end?" is a very powerful feeling. As Jesus looked up to his father in heaven, he's saying "Father why have you forsaken me." And Jesus dies.

"This frigid hour" refers to the cold, empty feelings of the people who loved him. "When the earth has the odor of human dust," represents the saying "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." We can feel the sadness when you picture Jesus on the cross with the other men who were crucified and the smell of death around them. One last time before Jesus dies on the cross, he questions his purpose in life by saying "I wish I could beat on all the doors." He continues to "beg pardon from someone." Is he begging pardon from us because he hasn't reached all the people he wanted to? "Make bits of fresh bread for him here, in the oven of my heart...!" What powerful words, to describe the love he has for us.

"Eyelash of morning, you cannot lift yourselves!" This passage is based on the belief that on the third day after his death he rose again from the dead. We are the "eyelash of morning," something that covers the light, and are helpless to see the light on our own; we need help.

"Give us our daily bread, Lord...!" refers to "Our Lords Prayer." We need Jesus in our lives, he is "our daily bread."

There are many symbols and metaphors in this poem, such as the body and blood of Jesus being referred to as the bread and wine, and the blessed hands of Jesus who healed the sick.

The language of this poem is fine; I would not change a word of it. I thought about moving third stanza to the end, but as I looked deeper into the poem, I began feeling the speaker was Christ speaking to me. So I wouldn't move the third stanza but possibly repeat "Where will I end?" Those four words are very powerful and would leave the reader thinking that maybe if I don't put Jesus in my life "where will I end?"


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