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Odes to Common Things

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  2,438 ratings  ·  154 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. ...more
Hardcover, 152 pages
Published May 1st 1994 by Bulfinch (first published 1954)
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Average rating 4.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,438 ratings  ·  154 reviews

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Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 2018, recs
Naming the simple things of the natural world, Neruda’s odes address everything, for everyone. With his painstakingly unadorned language, Neruda aims to capture all facets of everyday life within his odes, in a manner not unlike that of the realist photographer. Be his subject alive or inanimate, an atom or a hummingbird, Neruda considers it with care from many angles, wanting to neither embellish nor simplify it. The naturalist project is explicitly democratic in its intentions: the poet often ...more
Oct 31, 2015 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
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found myself needing to read poetry for a Read Harder challenge, something I have not done since high school. I decided on Pablo Neruda as I had come across some of his love poetry and also read something of his history when I visited Valparaiso many years ago. This edition of Odes to Common Things seemed a great starting point to ease myself into his poetry.

It is a great collection, enhanced with lovely pencil sketches of the everyday items that are risen to objects of desire by these vers
Judy Gee
Jun 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you ever wanted to translate Flemish still life painting into words, read this book.
Jessica Jeffers
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
For the Read Harder Challenge, a collection of poetry in translation about a topic other than love.
Haley ☾orkery ☕
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Whether it's a table, a bar of soap, an onion, a dog, a spoon, a violin, or a bowl, Neruda reminds us that all things are worthy and all things possess beauty. If only one takes the time to look. Loved each and every one of these. I need to buy this book ASAP! ...more
Bookish Bethany
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really really love this beautiful and simple book of poetry - it elevates the life of small, everyday things that we often take for granted. A great inspiration, this book is a gift to be treasured and read over and over.
Stephen Kiernan
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The great Neruda proves that no object is worthless in the eyes of art. A cat, a salt shaker, a chair, all have poetic resonance and emotional power in the hands of a great artist.
This particular edition has the benefit of the original language on the left hand pages, which makes for fun comparisons of words.
A quick and rewarding book of generally light verse.
Jul 31, 2015 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 ...more
Jane Branson
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Ordinary stuff made beautiful with love and luminous words. Today, "Scissors" and "Cat" are my favourites. Tomorrow it might be "Chair" and "Yellow Flowers". ...more
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Poetry-haters, please note: This is a review of a poetry book. As such, it contains quotations from poems. Read at your own risk! #sorrynotsorry

The word "Common" in this title is somewhat deceptive, as we often use "Common" in a derogatory manner to refer to things that are insignificant or even despicable. However, as these poems so beautifully remind us, common things derive their value in the same way uncommon things do... Through the significance placed on them by humans. A bowl, for example
Book #13 for 2018
GenreLand: February - Poetry
The Legendary Book Club of Habitica's Ultimate Reading Challenge: A book with pictures
The Ultimate PopSugar Reading Challenge:
- Your favorite prompt from the 2015 PopSugar reading challenge (a book you started but never finished)
- A book by two authors
- A book recommended by someone else taking the PopSugar Reading Challenge
My Personal Reading Challenge:
- A collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love
- A book in translation
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a gorgeous collection of poems. I’m already excited to wear this book out. Neruda so beautifully illustrates ordinary things and redefines them as works of art— all while creating his own. I savored reading these— they made me smile, sometimes laugh, caused me to say “wow” at their conclusion. Reminds you to see everything in a beautiful spotlight.
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
These were simple and delightful, and made me want to write.
Brandon Swann
Mar 07, 2021 rated it liked it
The irony of finding Neruda's love poems insipid, but his poems 'to Common Things' pouring over with beauty - hah. Anyways, this work is a grand recalling that poetry is always readily available, not barred behind some door of grandiose experience.

My favorites here were Odes to: the table, a violin in California, some yellow flowers, a pair of socks, and the dictionary.

"I am made of earth and my song is made of words." (87)

PS: my favorite thing that I've read by Neruda yet is actually his Nobe
Apr 03, 2012 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.
Aug 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, poetry
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. ...more
Jana Eichhorn
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I prefer his love poems, but only Pablo Neruda could make a poem about bread sexy.
Apr 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Last night I watched the first installment of Ken Burns' documentary, Hemingway, and one of the scholars marveled about his going against the grain. When a lot of writers were going fancy and ornate -- think James Joyce and Faulkner, for instance -- Hemingway went simple (asterisk).

"Simple" meant anyone with a high school education -- even less -- could easily read and understand his prose-writing. Whether they could infer what was going on beneath the surface is another thing.

I thought of that
Jun 07, 2016 rated it liked it
And the waves tell the firm coast:
'Everything will be fulfilled.'

Идейно. Странно. Симпатично.
(*aсоциации: Далчев, Pessoa)

Любимата ми, "Оde to hope":

Oceanic dawn
at the center
of my life,
waves like grapes,
the sky's solitude,
you fill me
and flood
the complete sea,
the undiminished sky,
and space,
sea foam's white
the orange earth,
the sun's
fiery waist
in agony,
so many
gifts and talents,
birds soaring into their dreams,
and the sea, the sea,
chorus of rich, resonant salt,
and mean
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the rat race that we are all profoundly engrossed in, Neruda's collection of poems will assist readers to appreciate the common things surrounding them. Neruda's perspective over the common things is just mindblowing-ly spectacular as he points out the extraordinary qualities common things possess, something which majority or almost all of us fail to notice. A truly gifted author who has weaved a masterpiece through his words. The last ode in the book would be my favorite one - Ode to French ...more
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"I am of the earth and my song of words."

This meditative, celebratory, insightful collection of poems quietly examining life and its everyday miraculous treasures is an exquisite and addicting read. The poems are accessible and smooth, the drawings elegant. A poem about a bed also considers the universality of birth and death; a chair becomes the landscape for peace. A dog's wet eyes poses unanswerable questions about our world and our existence, and a guitar evokes the immeasurable sadness from
Kristin Lunz Trujillo
I know I'm in the minority here, but for such an acclaimed poet I found these poems a bit disappointing. I get the main point - the beauty of the everyday, the common, and the simple (like the verses themselves, like his overall political ideology) - but the expression of this felt trite at times. Some of the odes I really liked in the original Spanish, such as the ones to cats and beds. Perhaps it's a difference in preference but overall these just didn't resonate with me as much as I had hoped ...more
Tandava Graham
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
The humblest of subjects can become glorious in this delightful collection of apotheoses. Some of my favorites were the cat, a pair of socks, a box of tea, the spoon, the orange, the artichoke, and the introductory poem kicking off the whole thing, addressed simply to “things.” These will definitely be fun to share with students, since they so easily inspire more poems about all the many objects in our lives.

I enjoyed having the Spanish mirroring on facing pages so I could peek at it occasionall
Sarah Pascarella
Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
In college, I had a professor who often said, "what is simple is the most complex, and vice versa." I was reminded of him often reading this collection, where Neruda starts with an everyday object and then often takes the reader on a journey addressing grand questions and observations on life, love, death, and our interconnectedness. During quarantine I've read a poem daily, and Neruda's collection was a regular reminder to notice and appreciate the everyday objects I often overlook - and to loo ...more
Bea Bezmalinovic
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book. Neruda's poems are presented in Spanish and English with black and white illustrations that fit the feel of the book. Neruda writes about everyday things - dogs, cats, carnations, violets, socks, scissors, etc - with such wit and insight that you won't look at these common things the same way after reading it.

I have read it several times. While I do not usually like poems, I loved this book. There are two other books in the series that I am adding to my want to read lis
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I came across “Ode to a pair of socks” in one of the “ten poems to” books. I thought it was charming. This book was mentioned in an article I saw suggesting books that were good company during lockdown. And I liked the idea of celebrating ordinary things. I feel that I’d like it as an idea at all times, but especially when at home with ordinary things around me.

I think I like the idea slightly more than the execution, though I did enjoy;
- ode to a pair of scissors
- ode to the artichoke
And I lik
Jonathan Hiskes
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful little songs of praise to everyday objects -- chair, a cat, a bar of soap, a cluster of violets. This edition also has lovely ink drawings of the subjects. From the ode to French fries (a topic that deserves much more poetic praise): "French/fries/go/into the pan/like the morning swan's/snowy/feathers/and emerge/half-golden from the olive's/crackling amber." ...more
Erin Watson
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a book I kept on my kitchen counter for years, a volume to open while waiting for water to boil or for tea to steep. It is a celebration of the mundane, a way of dressing the everyday in parade attire and celebrating that which seems designed to be taken for granted. I adore this principle and recommend this book to anyone who loves to find magic in the everyday.
Megan Alyse
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mfa
What a book ! Ode to a Pair of socks might be my favorite. I don’t care enough about flowers to love those Odes . And you tend to wonder if Neruda walked around with a permanent hard-on for vegetables . In any case, read this book if you forgot ecstasy in the way it exists everywhere. Just have to look. Again - wish i could speak Spanish.
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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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