Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Book of Questions” as Want to Read:
The Book of Questions
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Book of Questions

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  3,744 ratings  ·  565 reviews
A best-selling volume of Pablo Neruda's poetry in an English-Spanish edition.

Pablo Neruda is one of the world's most popular and famous poets, and in The Book of Questions, Neruda refuses to be corralled by the rational mind. Composed of 316 unanswerable questions, these poems integrate the wonder of a child with the experiences of an adult. By turns Orphic, comic, surreal
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Copper Canyon Press (first published 1974)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Book of Questions, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Book of Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,744 ratings  ·  565 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Book of Questions
Ahmad Sharabiani
El libro de las Preguntas = Libro de las Preguntas = The Book of Questions‬‭, Pablo Neruda

Brief poems by the Nobel Prize-winner, Completed only months before his death in 1973.

Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto (12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973), better known by his pen name and, later, legal name Pablo Neruda, was a Chilean poet-diplomat and politician.

Neruda became known as a poet when he was 10 years old, and wrote in a variety of styles, including surrealist poems, historical epics, ove
Steven Godin
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, latin-america
Pablo Neruda only finished 'The Book of Questions' months before his death in September 1973.
With it's composition, he comes full circle as both a human being and writer. The poet existed in waters that no one else could swim in, flowing in all directions, from the sun-kissed surface that flirted with the waves, to the dark-hearted Abyss that lies below. This collection follows the same common source of all his work, re-visiting that deep well of perpetuity, the imagination of regeneration and v
Ammara Abid
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book asks heart-wrenching questions in every prose &
I loved it wholeheartedly. ♡ Absolutely brilliant questioning poetry which hit you hard,
hit you hard in the core of your heart, blown your mind & in the end made you think.

Hold on,
Hold on,

This book is a gem so how can I let it go without adding my favorite lines here,

Is it true our desires
must be watered with dew?

Do tears not yet spilled
wait in small lakes?
Or are they invisible rivers
that run toward sadness?

Is it true that sadness i
You don’t want to answer me.
But the questions do not die.

-(Neruda, 1924)

The Book of Questions is a collection of 316 questions that compose the 74 poems. 316 questions which no rational answers exists, says the introductory part of my copy. No rational answers may exist for these questions, but the rational mind will strive beyond conventions to grasp its meanings. If you will ruminate on this 74 poems, one will find that some answers do exist, albeit spiritual and mercurial answers validate
Katia N
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Por que se queda en los ramajes
hast que las hojas se caen?
Y donde se quedan colgados
sus pantalones amarillos?
Verdad que parece esperar
el otono que pase algo?
Tal vez el temblor de una hoje
o el transito del universo?
Hay un iman bajo la tierra,
iman hermano del otono?
Cuando se dicta bajo tierra
le designacion de la rosa?

Why does it linger at the branches
until the leaves fall?
And where are its yellow trousers
left hanging?
Is it true that autumn seems to wait
for something to happen?
Perhaps the trembling
Muhammad Arqum
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
In France, where does spring get so many leaves?

Why do trees conceal the splendor of their roots?

Where is the child I was, still inside me or gone?
Does he know that I never loved him and that he never loved me?
Why did we spend so much time · growing up only to separate?
Why did we both not die when my childhood died?
And why does my skeleton pursue me if my soul has fallen away?

Is there anything in the world sadder than a train standing in the rain?

Does a word sometimes slither like a serpe
Jul 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
316 questions posed by the great poet just months before his death. I found more than 70 of them worth copying into my journal, and I'm not particularly compulsive about things like that. Reading them, you will probably find yourself transported to an especially thoughtful and unusual frame of mind.

Here are some personal favorites (spaced widely to try to preserve some measure of the original pacing):

Is it true that in an anthill, dreams are duty?

Am I allowed to ask my book whether it's true I w
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Simply hilarious. The great Chilean poet wrote a book of nothing but strange, bizarre questions, like:

Tell me, is the rose naked
or is that her only dress?

Why do trees conceal
the splendor of their roots?

Who hears the regrets
of the thieving automobile?

Is there anything in the world sadder
than a train standing in the rain?

Many of them would make for great prompts for writing exercises.
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I thought this was a classy little act of a book of short snippets of poetry. I’ve read a few of his poetry books before and I like the dude. In this very short book Pablo posits lots of interesting hypothetical scenarios. It reminded me of Samuel Butler’s Erewhon where the children in this utopian society are required to attend lessons where they are encouraged to think about the art of the possible. So what would you get if you were able to mix a donkey with an apple? The poetry here is quite ...more
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes your brain gets on a tangent and you see that idea or concept popping up everywhere. I've been on a brain-tangent for a while now - about questions. The idea that we all want answers to our questions, especially now, in the information/technology age. We think there must be answers. There must be a conclusion to every story, every problem a solution. So I've begun to wonder why. Could it be that in fact the answers are more questions? Or better questions? That the wonder of life might ...more
Jan 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Is it true our desires
must be watered with dew?
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry
Who ordered me to tear down
the doors of my own pride?
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
And does the father who lives in your dreams
die again when you awaken?
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who wonder about the mysteries of the world
Shelves: poetry, nobel
It's incredible how poetic these questions are!
S. Mehdi
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: primary, poetry
Is there anything sillier in life
than to be called Pablo Neruda? (XXXII)

How many questions does a cat have? (VIII)

If I have died and don’t know it
of whom do I ask the time? (II)

Tell me, is the rose naked
or is that her only dress?

Why do trees conceal
the splendor of their roots?

Who hears the regrets
of the thieving automobile?

Is there anything in the world sadder
than a train standing in the rain? (III)

Why do leaves commit suicide
when they feel yellow? (V)

Where is the child I was,
still inside me o
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, pablo-neruda

Does he who is always waiting suffer more
than he who's never waited for anyone?
Where does the rainbow end,
in your soul or on the horizon?
Perhaps heaven will be,
for suicides, an invisible star?
Where are the vineyards of iron
from where the meteor falls?


When I see the sea once more
will the sea have seen or not seen me?
Why do the waves ask me
the same questions I ask them?
And why do they strike the rock
with so much wasted passion?
Don't they get tired of repeating
their declaration to the sand?
Steve Scott
Nov 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry
These poems are supposed to be approached indirectly...intuitively, like a zen koan.

Sorry. Doesn't work for me. I'm not going to assume the affectation required to pretend to understand these.

That said, some of these aren't beyond my appreciation:

Where is the child I was, still inside me or gone?
Does he know that I never loved him and that he never loved me?
Why did we spend so much time growing up only to separate?
Why did we both not die when my childhood died?
And why does my skeleton pursue me
Aug 25, 2010 rated it liked it
"Tell me, is the rose naked
or is that her only dress?"
Ghada Muthana
It's still my only wish to read those books in their original languages :'( ...more
L.M. Boyd
May 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
And after reading this, I find that I, too, have questions on nature, on life, on death, on colors, on grapes, on seasons. (I don't wax poetic as Neruda mind you)

Is this short existence
merciful or merciless?

Can life embracing the death throes
be considered intercourse?

Does this embrace not
conceive one’s afterlife?

Who does the wind dance for?

In winter, why does everything
feel more seductive?

Is it because nature is in between
a wardrobe change?

Does the sea grow tired of
switching between lovers?

Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
These poems are composed of nothing but questions that are frequently nonsense that makes perfect sense.
Why does the hat of night
fly so full of holes?

What does old ash say
when it passes near the fire?

Why do clouds cry so much
growing happier and happier?

For whom do the pistils of the sun burn
in the shadow of the eclipse?

How many bees are there in a day?

They are like little Zen koans that ask us to look beyond the status quo and expectations, to use our imagination, to see differently and allow
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Where is the child I was,
Still inside me or gone?

Do we learn kindness
Or the mask of kindness?

Now that the bones are gone
Who lives in the final dust?

If you've never asked yourself Neruda's questions, it's not too late.
Indran Fernando
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
While Pablo Neruda has written some of the most inspired and transportative lines out of anything I've read, I find him to be frustratingly inconsistent. The Book of Questions is a prime example of that, at least as far as the English translation is concerned (I only occasionally glanced at the Spanish this time).

Goodreads' star rating system is ill-equipped for conveying how I feel about a work in which a single page can contain such a perplexing mix of inspiration and mediocrity from one line
Hadi Ali
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It is hard to recover from the blows of this collection of questions in a short time. They are the questions which we would rather not ask, let alone dwell upon them attempting to answer. Consider the following ones, for example:

In the end, won’t death
be an endless kitchen?

What will your disintegrated bones do,
search once more for your form?

Will your destruction merge
with another voice and other light?

Will your worms become part
of dogs or butterflies?


Will Czechoslovakians or turtles
be born
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Another gem in the fine series by Copper Canyon Press. However this book is unique as all the 74 poems in this book are questions. Each poem is typically constructed on three to five stanzas with each stanza asking questions on the theme of that poem. Sometimes each stanza can stand on its own. such as: Why doesn't Thursday talk itself into coming after Friday? or How do we measure the foam that slips from the beer? Some poems cross into the next poem. All are intriguing, funny, pondering and of ...more
Barbara Lovejoy
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It has been 9 1/2 years since I last read this book. It was definitely time to read it again...and LOVE it again!!!

October 9, 2011: I had read this bilingual book a number of years ago but wanted to read it again after reading The Dreamer. I love the questions Neruda asks in poetry style in this book! These questions would be a great starting point in getting students (and educators, too!) to write similar kinds of questions.
Mashail Faqeeh
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
At the end of the book I felt as if I just read my own thoughts. Some questions leave you really frustrated I honestly loved this book
Karen Hood
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I love Neruda and this book of questions is a short read but inspirational. I recommend this book to everyone as an enjoyable and insightful read,
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
This felt a bit too gimmicky. There were scattered strong moments, and he made me rethink what poetry can be. I look forward to reading some of his more famous earlier work.
Mark Ward
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was ok

(two stars not one as one of rhe questions inspired a poem)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Research paper 1 1 Dec 11, 2018 06:46AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • لست ذا شأن
  • إني المشنوق أعلاه
  • أكثر من طريقة لائقة للغرق
  • لو كان آدم سعيدًا
  • الوحش الأخضر الصغير
  • المواكب
  • كمشة فراشات
  • صديقي الله
  • لا أشبه أحدًا
  • كلمات رديئة
  • لا تعتذر عما فعلت
  • ليل واحد في كل المدن
  • لا أريد لهذي القصيدة أن تنتهي
  • تقرير موضوعي عن سعادة مدمن المورفين
  • جدارية
  • أسئلة وتساؤلات
  • شمس مؤقتة
  • لافتات 1
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

In a year that seems to present new challenges for us at every turn, Julia Alvarez’s latest novel, Afterlife, has arrived at the perfect time.
47 likes · 14 comments
“In what language does rain fall over tormented cities?” 570 likes
“With which stars do they go on speaking,the rivers that never reach the sea?” 104 likes
More quotes…