Antonio Porchia, W.S. Merwin, trans.

Voices is a collection of poetic aphorisms written over several decades by Antonio Porchia and translated by W.S. Merwin. Spontaneous, succinct and wise, these aphorisms have the spiritual character of the world’s great religions—especially Buddhist and Taoist epigrams—and the subtle attention to language of our best literature.
Voices is Porchia’s only book, which he augmented and revised throughout his life. By the time of his death, it had become a classic, published in over a dozen different Spanish-language editions; today there are also translations into German, French, and Italian.
This new bilingual edition, revised and updated with an introduction by Merwin, brings back into print one of Latin America’s great literary enigmas.

ISBN: 9781556591891

Format: Paperback

from “Voices”

It is when I assent to nothing that I assent to all.


When I come upon some idea that is not of this world, I feel as though this world had grown wider.

About the Author

Antonio Porchia was born in Italy and emigrated to Argentina after the death of his father. He began working as a basketweaver at the age of fourteen and later bought and operated a print shop with his brother. Voices, his only book, was first published in a small, private edition in 1943 and was expanded and republished in 1947. It caught the attention of a noted French critic who assumed that Porchia must be a scholar of Kafka and Buddhism, …

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About the Translator

W.S. Merwin was born in New York City in 1927 and was United States Poet Laureate in 2010. He graduated from Princeton University in 1948, where he studied with John Berryman and R.P. Blackmur. From 1949 to 1951 he worked as a tutor in France, Mallorca, and Portugal; for several years afterward he made the greater part of his living by translating from French, Spanish, Latin, and Portuguese. His first book of poetry, A Mask for Janus (1952) was selected …

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“Porchia’s aphorisms… seem to emerge from a rarefied mental world where behavior is orchestrated less by exigency than by pure principle.” —Foreword

“This fascinating collection of poetic aphorisms is so stylistically pure, psychologically lucid, and philosophically far-reaching that I am tempted to list quotations, instead of commenting on them… Voices is a moving and mysterious masterpiece, of which W.S. Merwin has provided a sensitive and accurate translation.” —Antioch Review

Voices… contains 600 one-line aphorisms, or poems, that move the reader to levels of awareness that seem like a spiritual awakening.” —Home News Tribune

“Condensed, hermetic, provocative, the wisdom of Voices is the gift of one unique poet to the world.” —Santa Fe New Mexican