Edwin Williamson, 18 May 1989
Octavio Paz occupies a unique position in the Spanish-speaking world. He is the foremost living poet of the language as well as being one of the most authoritative interpreters of the Hispanic situation, a pensador in the tradition of Unamuno, Ortega y Gasset, Rodo and Mariategui. Poetry, however, has always been the vital source of his ideas. His work as cultural historian, political essayist and editor of Vuelta, the most influential journal in Latin America today, is rooted in his belief that the poetic conscience must be brought to bear on the central issues of contemporary history. The Collected Poems brings together for the first time Paz’s mature work in a splendidly produced bilingual edition. Over half of the poems have not been rendered into English before and it is very gratifying to find here the most recent collection, the superb A Tree Within, which came out in 1987. This book is something of a coup by Carcanet.