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Odes to Common Things
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Odes to Common Things

4.4 of 5 stars 4.40  ·  rating details  ·  1,503 ratings  ·  69 reviews
A bilingual collection of 25 newly translated odes by the century's greatest Spanish-language poet, each accompanied by a pair of exquisite pencil drawings. From bread and soap to a bed and a box of tea, the "odes to common things" collected here conjure up the essence of their subjects clearly and wondrously. 50 b&w illustrations.
Hardcover, 152 pages
Published May 1st 1994 by Bulfinch (first published 1961)
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The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotAriel by Sylvia Plath
Best Poetry Books
114th out of 1,464 books — 1,594 voters
The Poetry of Pablo Neruda by Pablo NerudaThe Collected Poems, 1957-1987 by Octavio PazTwenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo NerudaOdes to Common Things by Pablo NerudaA Sor Juana Anthology by Juana Inés de la Cruz
Latin American Poets
4th out of 86 books — 12 voters

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Community Reviews

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luminosa redoma,
pétalo a pátalo
se formó tu hermosura,
escamas de cristal te acrecentaron
y en el secreto de la tierra oscura
se redendeó tu vientre de rocío.
Bajo la tierra
fue el milagro
e cuando apareció
tu torpe tallo verde,
y nacieron
tus hojas como espadas en el huerto,
la tierra acumuló su poderío
mostrando tu desnuda transparencia,

y como en Afrodita el mar remoto
duplicó la magnolia
levantando sus senos,
la tierra
así te hizo,
clara como un planeta,
y destinada
a relucir,
contelación consta
If you ever wanted to translate Flemish still life painting into words, read this book.
Black Elephants
I found myself in Austin, TX in the indie bookstore Book People, which is just wonderful because it is exactly what a bookstore should be: personable, full of personality and diverse in title selection. Book People welcomes browsers and makes you want to buy with the sincerity with which they display books to sell. On the second floor, the author of that great classic The True Story of the Three Little Pigs was about to speak, and below, I wandered among the staff recommendations without any tho ...more
Creo que la poesía realmente buena es aquella que no solo produce goce estético y placer sonoro, sino que además nos hace ver el mundo de una manera diferente, nos brinda una nueva y única forma de conocimiento. Todo eso y más lo he obtenido de estas maravillosas "Odas Elementales", que han cambiado mi forma de apreciar las cosas sencillas de la vida. Uno termina de leer este libro y le dan ganas de escribirle un poema al libro que reposa sobre la cama, a un perro paseando por la calle, a un tro ...more
I'm convinced that our lives and our view of the world would improve dramatically if, like Neruda, we took the time to celebrate the beauty of simple things.
El Segoviano
Después de 30 años no puedo acordarme bien de su poesía, sin embargo mantengo un gran recuerdo de este libro y aunque la poesía tiene su mandanga y no es facil de seguir, este es uno de esos libros que te hacen mantener una muy buena impresión de su lectura.
En su momento estaba muy ponderado, posiblemente por su pasado político que en lo que se refiere a la lectura es lo que menos importa.
I was already familiar with Ode to an Apple / Onion / Pair of Socks, and those poems rocked, so I was happy to nab this collection. It features illustrations for all 25 poems, which are presented in both Spanish and English.

New favorite odes:
French fries
Breathtaking collection of poetry. My favorites were Ode to the Dictionary and Ode to some Yellow Flowers. They're all my favorites.
"In the end we're
neither air, nor fire, nor water,
neither more or less, just dirt,
and maybe
some yellow flowers."
One of my favorite book of poetry.
Beautiful poems. Love the illustrations too.
Poems to be read aloud and if possible to innocent children. Pleasing as can be.
Who can forget the gorgeous woolen socks of Maru Mori?
good things are doubly
when you're talking about a pair of wool
in the dead of winter.

Or the box of tea...?
box of tea,
like my
own heart
you arrived bearing
that had held
fabulous petals in their gaze
and also, yes,
lost scent
of tea, of jasmine and of dreams,
that scent of wandering spring.
Neruda was a prince of a man. The one language that I was NOT interested in was Spanish-- it was "common" and I wanted to travel. I have not traveled much and I cannot get over how much knowing and speaking it would help me in social work.

Neruda's bilingual poetry is lovely. I like to read the English out loud while glancing at the Spanish. My favorite poem of all time is his Ode to Socks. He wrote about common things for common people. He saw art and beauty everywhere.
Pablo Neruda vió en cosas comunes la poesía y escribió en esta obra odas y poemas a esas cosas que veía: a la cebolla, al tomate, a la tristeza, al invierno, otoño, verano y primavera, al vino, a la vida, a César Vallejo, a la pobreza, a la soledad y hasta el lujo se da de darle una oda a la poesía. Por sus versos uno se va relajando, se va adentrando en el amor que este hombre le tenía la vida
I never get tired of this book. I never get tired of odes (poems that celebrate the beauty of the everyday). I never get tired of Pablo Neruda's voice. I never get tired of the illustrations in this book. This is a classic. It is a go-to when I'm feeling blue. It always reminds me that there is beauty all around us all of the time. We just have to change our focus sometimes to see it.
Raúl Sánchez
Aunque a veces es simplemente demasiado, y parece más bien que se engolosina con su virtuosismo, estas odas son lo más util que pueda existir en el mundo para alguien que quiere escribir poesía. Nos enseñan a seguir adelante y a buscar el transfondo de todo objeto, de todo acontecimiento, para llevarlo a la luz de la poesía. Nunca vi cebolla más hermosa que la de Pablo Neruda.
Best book of poetry I've ever read.
Again, Neruda shows his genius. I especially love Ode to the Table, his lines "the table is already set and we know the truth as soon as we are called: whether we are called to war or to dinner we will have to choose sides..." are so true. There is much to be learned from Neruda, and this book is a great text for this endeavor.
Without question, one of my favorite books of poetry. Neruda has microscopic eyes! Amazing ability to strip everything done to the bone, even meaningless objects transform into treasures under his hand. His keen eye teaches us to appreciate each object on this earth. He picks up the unseen, the unnoticed, and turns it into art.
Jun 05, 2007 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
While the poetry of Pablo Neruda is best read in spanish...I, unfortunately know very little spanish. so I bought the by-lingual, I can understand it, and then appreciate its beauty in spanish. And who would have thought he'd write about many of my favorite things: Cats, spoons, scissors, tea...the dictionary...
Dave Manning
It was John McCutcheon's DVD that led me to this bi-lingual book of poetry. There were some wonderful tributes to everyday items that escalated their importance in our lives to that of greatness. I wish that I knew Spanish well enough to be able to appreciate the book in its native tongue.
Leave it to Neruda to point out the extraordinary aspects of "ordinary" things (bread, socks, onion, and so on). Just goes to show that miracles are always present in the mundane; we just need to see them through the eyes of a poet. For those of us lacking such vision, good thing there is Neruda.
Jul 25, 2007 Lulu rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: poets or poetry appreciators
I am slightly weary of translated texts. I'm so terrified of things that are lost in translation it often keeps me from reading things translated. But this book won't disapoint you. Side by side with the untranslted poem, the translations are accurate and beautiful in their own right.
Deeeelish. Reminds us how the simplest things can be the most beautiful. I don't speak Spanish--at least, not very well--but I love having both the Spanish and English translations of the poetry at my disposal. Whether you understand it or not, the words are edible.
The ode is the poetic form that praises and exults, that places a worthy person or object on a prosaic pedestal. Turning the form on its head, Neruda focuses on the most common and familiar objects, and in so doing, brings their subtle significance to light.
This is one of my favorite books - the poems are delightful, and this edition is the one to own. I don't know how one would begin to illustrate Neruda's other poetry, but the drawings accompanying these odes do not seem out of place here.
Neruda is one of the best poets in the world. I attempted to read the Spanish versions of these poems as well as the English ones. It was ambitious, and I got tired. The beautiful illustrations in this edition helped me to keep going.
His poems make me want to learn Spanish.
I keep thinking , that if the translations are so breathtaking, how much more beautiful tye original might be.
My favorite here is the Ode to a table.
Can never look at a table the same way anymore!
This book really suited my mode of thinking at the time that I read it. The images of the glorified mundane reminded me of my miniature homage to Claus Oldenburg: a stuffed fabric piece of bread entitled "Soft Toast."
Makes one look at simple objects in a completely new way. These poems were the inspiration for a series of prints that I made while taking Intaglio printmaking. "Ode to the Artichoke" is hanging in multiple homes these days.
My rating is unfair: it is related to my inability to grasp the meaning of poetry, to make sense out of it, to imagine the stories. Neruda is a great Latin American classic, but I failed miserably in understanding his work
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Pablo Neruda was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean writer and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. Neruda assumed his pen name as a teenager, partly because it was in vogue, partly to hide his poetry from his father, a rigid man who wanted his son to have a "practical" occupation. Neruda's pen name was derived from Czech writer and poet Jan Neruda; Pablo is thought to be fro ...more
More about Pablo Neruda...
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair The Poetry of Pablo Neruda 100 Love Sonnets The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems The Captain's Verses (Los versos del capitan) (English and Spanish Edition)

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“So the freshness lives on
in a lemon,
in the sweet-smelling house of the rind,
the proportions, arcane and acerb.”
“A book,
a book full
of human touches,
of shirts,
a book
without loneliness, with men
and tools,
a book
is victory.”
More quotes…