Cristina Peri Rossi’s (2008) State of Exile is one of those books that the reader would like to learn the Spanish language for. A moving book of poetry originally written in Spanish, State of Exile compels the reader to relate to the poet as a fellow human being. Rossi writes, “I have a pain here,/ On my homeland side. ” Hence, the reader would like to take the poet home. As this is impossible, however, the reader is forced to dwell on the following puzzling question with the poet: Why are human beings cruel to each other?
The poet describes exile thus: “The is no return:/ time flies/ space changes/ everything spins in infinite circle/ of cruel absurdity” (Rossi). But, the fact that the reader has sympathized with the poet reveals that humaneness is an essential part of life, so therefore cruelty must have limited short- and long-term effects. In other words, even if Rossi cannot explain why humans are cruel to each other, she can teach how humanity can overcome pain. “Exile is to spend our last/ for pesetas for a metro ticket/ to go interview for a job/ they won’t give us” (Rossi).
Nobody can disagree with the poet, as there are plenty of news reports and real immigrants’ accounts in the mainstream media and blogs describing how immigrants and exiled persons are dehumanized and demoralized. I remember reading a blog post about illegal immigrants in Greece, who have fled war-stricken countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan to save their lives from bombs and machine guns. Greeks do not know exactly what to do with them. If Greece were to send them back to their home countries, they may die in bomb blasts.
But, even if Greece keeps them in detention centers they may die due to poor living conditions. Furthermore, illegal immigrants are usually denied political asylum in Greece. If Greece were to grant them political asylum, these immigrants would be guaranteed protection from persecution and assistance to settle in Greece. But, the country does not offer them any assistance whatsoever. After all, Greece is the country where the modern-day concept of nation states was birthed. As nationalism is in vogue at the moment, so is racial profiling.
Regardless, fleeing poor conditions to enter a country where they would not be respected should not be an option for the afflicted. Hence, Rossi offers a solution to people in pain: they should fall in love with their foreign hosts. According to the poet, “I think that in loving you/ we will exchange syllables and words/ like religious amulets/ like keys to a secret code/ and, happy for the first time in this foreign city/ this other city,/ I will let myself be guided through her passages… (Rossi).
” After all, neither Rossi nor the illegal immigrants in Greece are in the social position to address heartless people with the following question: As the world was a Pangaea at one point, who is to decide whether Greece and other European nations belong to one particular race alone? Thus, it is best for Rossi and others in exile to respect themselves by engendering positive emotions such as love. As the poet sheds love, her readers love her in return, even though the poet was not referring to her readers when she wrote about love.
This shows the power of love. It further reveals the power of positive emotions that allow people in pain to get through life with hope for a better future. Indeed, if all people in exile or demoralized immigrants were to learn this from Rossi, our world may very well experience mass pain alleviation. References Rossi, C. P. (2008). State of Exile (M. Buck, Trans. ). San Francisco, CA: City Light Books.
Courtney from Study Moose
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