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Odes to Common Things

4.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,678 Ratings  ·  80 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
125th out of 1,668 books — 1,854 voters
The Poetry of Pablo Neruda by Pablo NerudaOdes to Common Things by Pablo NerudaThe Collected Poems, 1957-1987 by Octavio PazTwenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo NerudaA Sor Juana Anthology by Juana Inés de la Cruz
Latin American Poets
2nd out of 86 books — 14 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 31, 2015 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Through Neruda's voice we're reminded that a cat, a spoon, a table, an onion, a flower, are all worthy of poems written just for them. Through his eyes we're reminded of the wonder of the common things themselves, and of the wonder of their significance and place in the world. Lovely lines and arresting ideas knit themselves into poems even children can appreciate (and, perhaps, imitate for a classroom lesson).

The book itself is wonderful, too. The illustrations are either of two different kinds
Apr 16, 2012 Dora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 07, 2008 Judy rated it really liked it
If you ever wanted to translate Flemish still life painting into words, read this book.
Jul 31, 2015 Ananya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read odes to conger chowder, wine, tomatoes, maize, tuna, chestnut, artichoke, lemon, salt...sooo good! Couldn't believe such mundane things could be described so beautifully
Mar 23, 2015 Jsavett1 rated it it was amazing
Having read these immediately after Neruda's Twenty Love Poems (also amazing), I found myself truly loving Neruda for the first time. These poems, are in many ways, Neruda's love poems to the world of things. The issues with reading poems in translation are present as always, but many of these poems are revelatory. For instance, here is the end of "Ode to Sadness": I will stitch your eyelids shut,/I will sew your shroud,/sadness, and bury your rodent bones/beneath the springtime of an apple tree ...more
Jan 15, 2011 Katie rated it really liked it
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.
Black Elephants
Feb 17, 2009 Black Elephants rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
May 01, 2012 Olga rated it really liked it
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.
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
Sep 07, 2009 Bobby rated it it was amazing
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.
Dani Schechtel
Feb 03, 2016 Dani Schechtel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Uno de los mejores libros que he leído. Te convertiste en una referencia para la creación poética, y por supuesto en uno de mis poetas preferidos, Neruda. Gracias por tanta belleza. Te releo con placer
Andrew Nicholas
Aug 05, 2015 Andrew Nicholas rated it it was amazing
This book of poems right here will leave you with a crazy, crazy love of things. Pablo Neruda resurrects the ordinary as well as Marilynne Robinson does. The extraordinary, the transcendent, the unimaginably meaningful, the impossibly beautiful, the unspeakably sacred, reveals itself to him as the most common. This book challenged me to love everyday things not because they are passionate or pleasurable or sweet-smelling but because, I dont know, because they are intrinsically sacred by virtue o ...more
Tyler Jones
May 30, 2015 Tyler Jones rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
These are beautiful poems.
But..if I may nit-pick...they are a bit repetitive. I mean the first time he used the planetarium simile, it was striking. But then it shows up in two more poems in close order.

Something about this collection does not quite work for me. Perhaps it is the inclusion of animals and vegetables along with common inanimate objects that seems awkward to me. A dog is not a spoon. Even though the odes to the dog and the cat were probably the best poems in the collection, I jus
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.
Jan 20, 2015 Lily rated it it was amazing
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."
Jane Branson
May 29, 2016 Jane Branson rated it it was amazing
Ordinary stuff made beautiful with love and luminous words. Today, "Scissors" and "Cat" are my favourites. Tomorrow it might be "Chair" and "Yellow Flowers".
May 12, 2016 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Magnificent. Magical. I will never look at common things the same way again.
One of my favorite book of poetry.
Holly Ratcliff
Things feel.
Nov 01, 2014 Ali rated it really liked it
Beautiful poems. Love the illustrations too.
Mar 22, 2013 Kellie rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 15, 2015 Chicokc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 29, 2011 Lynn rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 16, 2011 Raúl Sánchez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 19, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Best book of poetry I've ever read.
Apr 10, 2008 Janice rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 19, 2008 Jenny rated it it was amazing
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 really liked it
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...
Jul 11, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
Dave Manning
Mar 24, 2009 Dave Manning rated it really liked it
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.
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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...

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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…