“...it is a book so timeless and so profound that it will always be new.... it is unquestionably one of the strongest and most eloquent diaries of the poetic process in our century.”
—New York Times Book Review
"Perhaps the only justification for writing is that it tries to answer the question we asked ourselves one day, which will not let us rest until it receives an answer. The great books—I mean: the necessary books—are those that can answer the questions that other men, darkly and without formulating them clearly, ask. I do not know if many have lost any sleep over the question that gave rise to this book; and I strongly doubt that my answer will meet with general approval. But if I am not sure of the scope and validity of my reply, I am sure of my personal need for it. From the time when I began to write poems, I wondered whether it was worth while to do so: would it not be better to transform life into poetry than to make poetry from life? And poetry—cannot its proper object be, more than the creation of poems, the creation of poetic instants? Can there be a universal communion in poetry?"
In The Bow and the Lyre Octavio Paz, one of the most important poets writing in Spanish, presents his sustained reflections on the poetic phenomenon and on the place of poetry in history and in our personal lives. It is written in the same prose style that distinguishes The Labyrinth of Solitude. The Bow and the Lyre will serve as an important complement to Paz's poetry.
Paz's discussions of the different aspects of the poetic phenomenon are not limited to Spanish and Spanish American literature. He is almost as apt to choose an example from Homer, Vergil, Blake, Whitman, Rimbaud as he is from Lope de Vega, Jiménez, Darío, Neruda. In writing these essays, he draws on his vast storehouse of knowledge, revealing a world outlook of ample proportions. In reading these essays, we share the observations of a searching, original, highly cultivated mind.