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I Explain a Few Things: Selected Poems

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4.33  ·  Rating details ·  301 ratings  ·  33 reviews
"Laughter is the language of the soul," Pablo Neruda said. Among the most lasting voices of the most tumultuous (in his own words, "the saddest") century, a witness and a chronicler of its most decisive events, he is the author of more than thirty-five books of poetry and one of Latin America's most revered writers, the emblem of the engaged poet, an artist whose heart, ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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kenneth
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Neruda is, of course, an undisputed genius. This book presents an array of his work from throughout his life. The poems encompass different themes and styles. Neruda is an important poet because he wrestles not merely with the metaphysical; he also tackles the issues of his time and by doing so he gives them a sense of timelessness. He is even prophetic in his portrayal of the harmful effects of global corporations, which act as a modern extension of imperialism. (As in his poem "The United ...more
Smitha Murthy
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I had heard of Neruda, of course, but apart from reading random quotes on the Internet, I hadn’t really read his poems in depth. As with everything translated, you wonder if the original nuances of the poet’s expression have been captured in its entirety. But we will never know.

I rushed headlong into reading Neruda without having any context into his works. I wanted to enjoy poetry just for the sake of poetry without the excessive analysis that accompanied my literature days. Did I enjoy it?
...more
Bonny
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful collection of Neruda's poetry. I like this bilingual edition. The poems have a powerful lyricism in Spanish that I was glad not to have missed. His poems have a crisper edge in English, but nevertheless, retain their power. I love his Ode Poems, especially: Ode To The Eye, Ode To Walt Whitman and Ode To The Atom. Ode To The Dictioary is amusing, too. He seems able to write on any and all topics, painting a broad picture of his life, thoughts, and feelings. His strokes are ...more
metaphor
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, pablo-neruda
And I, tiny being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss.
*
My heart broke loose with the wind.
*
Perhaps I don’t know, perhaps I didn’t know,
perhaps I never knew.
*
and the clock cannot turn back
to bring us together in tenderness.
*
and those hands of mine
could only grasp intangibles,
untouchable things
which could only be compared
when they no longer existed.

*
thinking maybe
but knowing never again
*
As all things are filled with my soul
you emerge
...more
Arlene
Mar 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2010, poetry
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) is a widely acclaimed Chilean poet. He was a recipient of the World Peace Prize in 1950 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971. One of his idols was Walt Whitman, and he even wrote an ode to honor him. He was a staunch supporter of Stalin and Fidel Castro, and you can even detect some of that influence in his poetry.

I'm glad I chose "I Explain a Few Things", which is a translation of his poetry because I liked the format of the book. The reader has the original
...more
Alor Deng
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chilean, poetry
the best of neruda. gems spread all over
Dan Robinson
Jan 24, 2008 is currently reading it
Just getting started with Neruda - chose this one from the bookstore shelf - feels rather like the beginning of a journey - I hope that I get lost ....
Ellis
Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"I Explain a Few Things" is my favorite poem of all time!
Joel Ortiz-Quintanilla
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
one of the best books of any language! oh Neruda, that sly old poet writing his life in verse in his universe. I remember residencia en tierra and thought how man can think like this, this Neruda was very interesting, then I read his odas which are like waves of his life trying to find some land so he can exist! Isla NEgra made me laugh in his sad twisted way of describing the obvious world in words. and one hundred love sonnets when it sat read on my shelf with pride in its covers to demand ...more
Mylan
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read enough poetry to really know whether or not it meets standards (I do know I learned a bit from English class, as well as having read Shakespeare for 4 years in high school). I came across Pablo Neruda's writing through snipits on the internet, quotes from him that interested me enough to go and purchase this copy.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are definite favourites here that I'll be revisiting, as well as others to illuminate parts of his life. The sadness of his experiences
...more
kaitlyn
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I finished this collection and immediately wanted to start over again. I underlined so many passages and dog-eared so many pages and sent lines from so many poems to so many friends and read so many poems out loud to myself and to others and cried and laughed so many times.
Catharine
Aug 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: to anyone .......
Recommended to Catharine by: Kerri Pike
Neruda is one of my favorie writers. I love this edition because it is bi-lingual, and i can read and hear his words in his native tongue. Often, there is not apt translation, only a munged up germanic version of an exquisite romance language thought.
Melissa Jackson
Oct 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a great collection of his most celebrated and esteemed poetry. The key, as with reading any author of a different language than your own, is the translation. And this book has the best versions and best translations of each selection.
Sara J. (kefuwa)
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Love this bi-lingual edition.

Despite the best efforts... part of the meaning will always be lost in translation. Nice to be able to read the original, different languages always flow differently.

Just so.
Kate Ringer
Thank goodness that is finally over. If there is one thing I have learned, it's that I don't like poetry unless it tells a story. In general, my favorite poems were the odes, but my favorite overall was Sonnet XI - "I want to eat your skin like a whole almond."
Joe
Apr 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 2008
The best "selected" I've found. Not a greatest hits. A simple field guide.

From Ilan Stevens's translation of "Ode to the Eye"

Then, at night,
your small
closing
window
opens up from the other end, like a tunnel,
to the unsettled homeland of dreams.
Elena ( The Queen Reads )
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
PJ Wallachia
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ode to the Elephant

"His eyes
still pain me,
a prisoner's eyes,
The immense king captive in his own jungle. "
Georgie
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful poem as haunting as it is moving. A truly personal account of the Spanish civil war that inspires empathy and compassion.
Books Ring Mah Bell
Dec 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
12/21 - just starting... this claims to have 50 of his best poems. I'll decide. I was also promised some poems not previously translated in English.

Tonight's selection for "Book, beer and bath".
Paul Athes
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great stuff!
Lydia Ingram
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking.
Theresa
Dec 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I love Neruda's odes. I think his ode to a dictionary is just awesome.
Cenk Gultekin
Apr 13, 2017 rated it liked it
His odes and political poems were quite stimulating to read; love poems, not so much.
Kate
Mar 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love Neruda's passion and his simple beauty when it comes to words. This is a great collection of his work
Mick Parsons
Nov 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Yes
It's a pretty solid collection drawn from his individual works; I was especially pleased with excerpt from CANTO GENERAL and the poem "Ode to an Elephant."
Amber
Oct 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I normally love me some Neruda but I now realize that I don't like most of his longer poems- of which this is comprised mostly of. I'll stick to the shorter love poems from now on.
Maxine
Oct 27, 2009 is currently reading it
Pablo Neruda is under appreciated. He knows romance. He knows love.
Joni
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Beautiful prose and poetry by the master of words for the soul, senses and the beauty of life itself.
Kristin
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Despite writing a fair bit of it, I'm actually not a fan of poetry. But I don't think I've discovered a poet that can weave words together in such a way that leaves me literally breathless at times.

Neruda has such a talent. I long for his poetry. This isn't something I can say about any other poet.

Please read this. His words will touch you. I guarantee it.
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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 ...more
“I Ask for Silence"

Now they can leave me in peace.
Now they grow used to my absence.

I am going to close my eyes.

I want only five things,
five chosen roots.

One is an endless love.

Two is to see the autumn.
I cannot exist without leaves
flying and falling to the earth.

The third is the solemn winter,
the rain I loved, the caress
of fire in the rough cold.

Fourth, the summer,
plump as a watermelon.

And fifthly, your eyes,
Matilde, my dear love,
I won’t sleep without your eyes,
I won’t exist without your gaze,
I adjust the spring
for you to follow me with your eyes.

That, friends, is all I want.
Next to nothing, close to everything.

Now they can go if they wish.

I have lived so much that some day
they will have to forget me forcibly,
rubbing me off the blackboard.
My heart was inexhaustible.

But because I ask for silence,
don’t think I’m going to die.
The opposite is true;
it happens I am going to live.

To be, and to go on being.

I will not be, however, if inside me,
the crop does not keep sprouting,
the shoots first, breaking through the earth
to reach the light;
but the mothering earth is dark,
and, deep inside me, I am dark.
I am a well in the water of which
the night leaves behind stars
and goes on alone across fields.

It’s a question of having lived so much
that I want to live a bit more.

I never felt my voice so clear,
never have been so rich in kisses.

Now, as always, it is early.
The light is a swarm of bees.

Let me alone with the day.
I ask leave to be born.”
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“Verb"

I’m going to wrinkle this word,
I’m going to twist it,
yes,
it is much too flat
it is as if a great dog or great river
had passed its tongue or water over it
during many years.

I want that in the word
the roughness is seen
the iron salt
The de-fanged strength
of the land,
the blood
of those who have spoken and those who have not spoken.

I want to see the thirst
Inside the syllables
I want to touch the fire
in the sound:
I want to feel the darkness
of the cry. I want
words as rough
as virgin rocks.”
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