This poem is about death, love, and the circle of life…no big deal, right? Uh, okay, fine. Those are some pretty heavy themes. But let's just break it down for you.
"Piedra de sol" is about a person trying very hard to remember someone he's forgotten. He can't remember her face or her name, but it seems like he loved her very much, even though it was a long time ago and he's had a few girlfriends that get mixed up in his memory (cut him some slack, he's an old man). But now he is at the end of life and is hating getting old (this was written pre-Botox) and is doing his best to remember.
Toward the middle of the poem he finally does remember, and it winds up being quite the bummer. Their relationship happened during the Spanish Civil War, in Madrid, and she seems like a really nice girl, one whom he compares to lots of famous mythological and literary women, drowned a long time ago. Yep, big bummer.
The cool part, though, is, after all the sadness, the speaker gets into this really Zen meditation state where he becomes one with the universe, and that's when he figures out that he can be with her. The end of the poem, after all the talk about death, is about rebirth, and ends up with the exact same lines that it starts with, to take us back to the beginning.
John M. Fein
The undisputed intellectual leadership of Octavio Paz, not only in Mexico but throughout Spanish America, rests on achievements in the essay and in poetry. In the field of the essay, he is the author of more than twenty-five books on subjects whose diversity -- esthetics, politics, surrealist art, the Mexican character, cultural anthropology, and Eastern philosophy, to cite only a few -- is dazzling. In poetry, his creativity has increased in vigor over more than fifty years as he has explored the numerous possibilities open to Hispanic poets from many different sources. The bridge that joins the halves of his writing is a concern for language in general and for the poetic process in particular.
Toward Octavio Paz defines this process of creation through a close examination of the books that represent the summit of the poet's development, three long poems and three collections. It is intended for readers of varied poetic experience who are approaching Paz's work for the first time.
By studying the relationship of the parts of the poem, particularly structure and theme, Fein traces the poet's growth through approaches to the reader, each embodied in a separate work. From the divided circularity of Piedra de sol through the intensification of the subject of Salamandra, the multiple meanings of Blanco, the polarities of Ladera este, and the literary solipsism of Pasado en claro, to the silences of Vuelta, Paz has shaped his audience's responses to his work through suggestion rather than control. The result is not only a new poetry but a new receptivity.