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Five Decades: Poems 1925-1970
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Five Decades: Poems 1925-1970

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  718 ratings  ·  44 reviews
This bilingual volume is the definitive collection of the poetry of Pablo Neruda, the 1971 Nobel Prize winner and one of the most profoundly influential poets of the twentieth century. His love poems are earthy and transcendent, and his political poems are the work of a man as incisive, impassioned, and ferociously intelligent as he was sensual. Ben Belitt has drawn the 13 ...more
Paperback, English & Spanish Edition, 464 pages
Published January 12th 1994 by Grove Press
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Average rating 4.42  · 
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 ·  718 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, pablo-neruda
Love, it grows late, and the shorelines are lost.
A day never meant for me,
maybe, stays with my memory: one
whose beginning was nowhere
and endless.
What we know comes to so little,
what we presume is so much,
what we learn, so laborious,
we can only ask questions and die.
[…] — nothing
but time passing, the green-and-white
line of the sea-sand, the ocean.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I know there are a lot of negative comments about the English translations of Neruda's work, but I honestly haven't read enough of them to judge the quality of this particular one. In a way it makes me sad, because I feel like I will never fully grasp the intensity of Neruda's emotion unless I learn Spanish. I did, however, really enjoy reading this collection, and I will probably return to it many times in the future.
Maria Ella
Very political at first. Then became emotional. And reached to the point that I became hormonal.
May 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
If I was sent to a desert island, this is the single book I would take with me to read for the rest of my life. Some of the English translations in this book are actually pretty horrible; read Selected Poems if you don't read Spanish. This one is a pretty comprehensive survey of my favorite poet of all time, hands down. He could be writing about the Spanish Civil War, the sea, United Fruit Company, the woman he loves, or a pair of socks-- everything is as if you never noticed it or saw it or com ...more
B Sarv
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It has been quite some time since I have read an entire book of poetry. First, this book has made me wish to take another try at learning Spanish as I am sure the deepest beauty of Neruda’s writing is lost in translation.

I really enjoyed the poems in this book. One of the most intriguing poems was “From the Woes and the Furies” and “Horsemen in the rain” had the most penetrating descriptions of rain I can recall reading.

I have been reading these poems with my morning coffee, a practice I recom
Aug 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Okay, I didn't read all of this, but what I did read was pretty amazing: I found the level of energy in _Residence on Earth_ (the title given that collection, usually called _Here on Earth_ in this translation) and the way that images roll one after the other is pretty breathtaking. The love sonnets are great, as are many of the Odes I read here. A very solid book, and one that I suspect might be the product of a translator somehow outside the pale?
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I've read a lot of Neruda and I like most of it. I did some research on this translation and it gets a lot of criticism for taking liberties. At its worst moments, its beyond absurd. At its best, it's great. I've read other translations that I liked a lot more.

Anyway, it took me 6 years to read this book. Sad.
Brandon Cook
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
An excellent introduction to the sprawling work of a great poet. Ben Belitt's wonderful translations are lucid and beautiful. Would have wished for some collections to be more fully represented (Canto General, The Hands of the Day) but the selections offered here are more than adequate.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“I say: ‘Here is my place,’ stripping myself down in the light / and dropping my hands in the sea, / until all is transparent again / there under the earth, and my sleep can be tranquil.”
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
Reading Neruda is something like attempting dream analysis: what you get out of it is largely a matter of your state of mind.
Katie B
Oct 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Horrible translations
Doris Raines
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Poet’s Pulpit
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sharp and insightful, wrapped in words without edges. Keep a dictionary nearby.
Anissa Maldonado
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A lot of people complained about the English translation and I somehow agree with them. I won't go into details about the language used. I know that it is brilliant in Spanish, another reason why I should learn the latter. But I'd give the translator two thumbs up for selecting the poems in this collection.

Neruda has a way of conveying something beautiful, may it be about the mundane everyday life, the intricacy of politics, societal problems, etc. I even enjoyed reading The United Food Co. (re
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites, 2015
I'm giving this five stars for the poetry and the curating of the poems but not for the translations. It's amazing, it includes poems about nature that I can actually stand. I typically roll my eyes as soon as a poem starts to get all nature-y but Neruda writes about plants, flowers, mud, clay, waves, etc. in a way that's unique and arresting. At first I was really excited that this was a bilingual edition but, as other reviews have stated, the translations are pretty bad. I know they're not sup ...more
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
I just can't give this book a good review, I love Neruda and in truth, I should learn to read Spanish so that I can read his words and let them translate in my mind myself. That said, I agree with so many other reviewers, the translations are pretty bad. Why would anyone without a poet's tongue, try to translate Neruda? Its so bad that I think this book only deserves 2 stars. In addition, the translator uses the word "niggardly" in his preface. Now I know this was 1974, but the selection of his ...more
Dec 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Understanding Neruda's poetry isn't easy, even for those who speak Spanish. This bilingual edition is of limited help. Often I found myself wondering why Belitt rendered an English word choice out of Neruda's Spanish text. Ilan Stavans has written that 'the field of Neruda’s translators is a particularly belligerent, acrimonious one.' Neruda has been called 'the greatest poet of the twentieth century --in any language' (Marquez) and 'a great bad poet' (Jimenez). An oft made point is that his poe ...more
Mar 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, reread
Pablo Neruda's poetry really did change my life. This particular cover of this collection reminds me of the summer of 1996, when I was subletting on campus and living in a little girl's room. The girl was gone for the summer, so I was sleeping in her bunkbed. Anyway, I really wanted to learn Spanish because of Pablo Neruda. I remember completely mastering "tengo un coche blanco" and "tienes un coche blanco" (because Chris had a white car, aka Babe) but little else. Anyway, I eventually did learn ...more
Dec 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
This is, to me, difficult reading. Yet really satisfying when a poem "hits the mark" and you understand it. Neruda's is the only poetry book I've ever brought, due to the movie "El Postino," in which there is a character loosely based on him, and the actor playing him was so great with Neruda's words I wanted to read more. I have to think much harder than when reading prose, but that's good. Give it a try- it's thought-provoking. And his use of words is simply amazing; beautiful. I've noticed on ...more
Feb 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this was the best choice in getting a collection of Pablo Neruda's poems. The poems are in both Spanish and English. I feel sorry for those of you who don't understand Spanish because you're really missing out on something. The beauty is in the words, how they're said aloud. The Enlish versions don't do it any justice really.
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Every poem is given in both Spanish and English translation, on facing pages. That said, the English translations seem to me a bit stilted and unnecessarily obscure. But I would recommend it to anyone who knows Spanish passably.
Kristin Renfro
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
This author was referred to me by a spanish speaking friend, and later his poems were read to my spanish class. Neruda is great and wonderful. Very romantic poems and a poem for everything. This is the dual language version, one side spanish and one side english.
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spanish, classics
Beautiful. If you can read it in Spanish, you'll get so much more out of it - the translations are awful.

One complaint - wish there were more love sonnets in this compilation. But its still some of the best poetry I've ever read.
Sep 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
I love many of the earlier poems, although Belitt's painstaking precision often tends to muddle both the rhythm and the tone of the poems -- turning what were most likely beautifully wrought phrases into intellectual pastiche.
Sep 07, 2011 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
My Spanish isn't great, but even I can tell this translation leaves something to be desired. Mr. Belitt seems often to use over-flowery language, losing something of the simple power of Neruda's language. Otherwise my review will wait until I finish the book.
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I wish I understood Spanish better, and could read these wonderful poems in the original language. I especially love his odes to ordinary objects. I always think of my friend, Meghana when I read Neruda, as she introduced his poetry to me.
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
beautiful on every page, this is more relaxing reading than any of those self-help books. My nine year old especially liked "some beasts" and the one about the boy holding the hare- we had a good discussion about the second one.
Mar 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-reads
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Neruda writes some of the most erotic and wonderful love poems ever. If someone things poems can't be a turn on, they should read this man's 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

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