The Central Railroad of Peru (poem with commentary)
The most distinguished in the world
Engineering feat of land and steal
Perhaps was: the Central railroad of Peru?
Where it reached to heights of thirteen thousand feet
(Above sea level); to the city of Ticlio,
Then down to Bone City (La Oroya)
And on to Huancavelica:
One thousand miles of rail
Through mountains, over bridges,
Around zigzags, and up hills…!
[Engineering of Poetry] In writing this poem, “The Central Railroad of Peru,” it came to mind what some folks are saying nowadays about poets and poetry, that is to say: some folks have said: poetry is like engineering, in that it has to be exact, its pulse, its mathematical genius, its hidden agenda; that under its shell are the real issues, the surface. These folks really mean, poetry needs accentual meter, or syllabic meter, I did that in my first book called, “The Other Door,” which was acclaimed in 1981, as a gifted book by much of the Midwest Press, in the United States. It also had that engineering kind of touch.
But what these gifted folks left out was common sense, in a world much lacking it. Poetry is basically focused on rhythm, meter and sound, and should have meaning and a voice of communication, one that demands effect. Involved with this is description and again, a narrative voice. Thus, poetry is much more than engineering ones way through the valley and through tunnels, and over bridges, it is figures of speech, interesting relations between reader and writer, examining traditional distinctions in culture, and showing the most basic language to its world of its intimacy. It has a voice, a theme (or should have), not just mathematics; it flows historically, and that is my kind of poetry, for this book: “The Road to Unishcoto”.
Historically if we look back to what poetry was originally concerned with, it will be auditory and visual, and cultural—from religious rituals to other functions. We have the old English barb (or Greek barbs that went from city to city to perform their cultural and historical plays in poetic form) manuscripts in monasteries showing verse showing Pagan and Christian customs, traditions, war, as in the Norman conquest (1166 AD); and the French culture was the culture that influenced Anglo-Norman poetry. Actually, rhyme didn’t appear in English poetry until this period.