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.

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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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