Concise analysis of sollozo por pedro jara (1978)

            As part of my project on this elegy by Jara Idrovo, I want to share a short analysis of the poem:

            As stated in other pages, this poem is divided into five Series, each one consisting of three variations. 
In Series I, the poetic voice (the poet himself) is in Galapagos. This could be a reference to the period of time he lived in Floreana Island or to a state of mind (immersed in loneliness and silence) that he associates with his stay in Galapagos Islands.[1] The poet (the poetic voice) receives the announcement of the birth of his son, which can be seen as a call to go back home. The son could be a link to the continental life. His birth is a source of joy but also and a reminder of his duties as a person involved in a human institution like family. This is the Series in which he chooses a name for his son, as it’s asked in the radiogram sent from home. He chooses the name Pedro and links it with its etymology: stone or rock. Throughout the poem he will make references to this and beautifully discover the reader the diversity of stone in nature and its characteristics, which he transferees to his son or vice versa.

           Jara Idrovo beautifully places stone in an oceanic ambient and word choice is related to that location throughout the poem. Galapagos is described as a mythical place. Through the variations, geographical references get more precise from 1.1 to 1.3 and also the message he gets becomes more personal from 1.1 to 1.3. The last verse of 1.3 is a statement for Pedro. He wishes that his son lived beyond his own life, which will not fulfilled.

           Series II describes the confrontation of Pedro with life. The poet insists on the fragility of life, of love, of sensitive beings. In this Series he will continued to play with the name Pedro and find different embodiments of stone in nature, cultures (Inca, Cañari, Rapa-Nui, which are referenced in the poem), geography and history of mankind. In a way, Pedro inherits the solitude of his father and his sensitivity towards tenderness and pain. Stone can be seen as one of the most tough and resilient elements that can be found in nature. It can be perceived among water and fire as an element of foundation of civilization. Yet, even if it is incredibly strong, other elements deteriorate it and, especially, humans can transform it. This is an analogy of Pedro’s life. His life experience involves deterioration. In this Series even love is described as something that can affect life in a negative way. There is also a dual feature: stone can both build something up, work as a foundation, or be used to destroy, as a weapon, for example. The strength and the malleability of this material are amazing. Therefore, even the name Pedro could be seen, etymologically, as deterministic.

           Series III metaphorically describes characteristics of Pedro’s life and contrast them with “nosotros” (us), the ones that remain and/or for different reasons insist on living or choose to do so. This Series is the most nihilistic of the five: the choices to live and to have hope are described both as naïve and forced. One can feel how much he feels compassion about his son’s choice, since he understands pain and he seemed to have been aware of the impact that life had on his son. He does not react in a judgmental way but one can feel he grieves. In contrast to Series I, which expressed hope, joy and positive expectations about Pedro's life, Series III starts to reveal sadness and pain because of the actual evolution of the son which involves pain. This Series is a preparation for Series IV, where the actions and scene of his suicide are described. The word stone is now linked to three scenarios/elements: water, vegetation and mountains.

            Series IV is the climax of the poem. All other Series are extremely symbolic and even baroque to some extent, but here the way the poetic voice communicates is more direct and, therefore, moving. This Series starts describing the scene of the suicide. According to the poetic voice, Pedro hung himself from a toilet chain. This scenario in front of his eyes impresses him and he remains questioning reality until the final verse of these Series. The son’s character and mischiefs are remembered and beautifully described. As readers, we get to know Pedro in more detail, which brings us closer to the poet’s pain.  From 4.1 to 4.3 the scene or physical space where his suicide happened becomes more abstract.

            In Series V, the poetic voice, the father, laments that his son has not survived to experience certain aspects of life, but he respect his choice, finds a way to console himself and resumes this tribute to Pedro with the hope that he will always be part of him, even if now Pedro -“piedra”- stone has become dust and has ceased to exist.


[1] María Augusta Vintimilla, El tiempo, la muerte, la memoria: la poética de Efraín Jara Idrovo, (Quito: Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, 1999), 64.

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