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The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems

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This collection of Neruda’s most essential poems will prove indispensable. Selected by a team of poets and prominent Neruda scholars in both Chile and the United States, this is a definitive selection that draws from the entire breadth and width of Neruda’s various styles and themes. An impressive group of translators that includes Alaistair Reid, Stephen Mitchell, Robert Hass, Stephen Kessler and Jack Hirschman have come together to revisit or completely retranslate the poems. A bilingual edition, with English on one side of the page, the original Spanish on the other. This selection sets the standard for a general, high--quality introduction to Neruda’s complete oeuvre.

Pablo Neruda was born in Chile in 1904. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.

200 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1979

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About the author

Pablo Neruda

828 books8,746 followers
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 from Paul Verlaine. With his works translated into many languages, Pablo Neruda is considered one of the greatest and most influential poets of the 20th century.

Neruda was accomplished in a variety of styles, ranging from erotically charged love poems like his collection Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair, surrealist poems, historical epics, and overtly political manifestos. In 1971 Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature, a controversial award because of his political activism. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language."

On July 15, 1945, at Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo, Brazil, he read to 100,000 people in honor of Communist revolutionary leader Luís Carlos Prestes. When Neruda returned to Chile after his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Salvador Allende invited him to read at the Estadio Nacional before 70,000 people.

During his lifetime, Neruda occupied many diplomatic posts and served a stint as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party. When Conservative Chilean President González Videla outlawed communism in Chile, a warrant was issued for Neruda's arrest. Friends hid him for months in a house basement in the Chilean port of Valparaíso. Later, Neruda escaped into exile through a mountain pass near Maihue Lake into Argentina. Years later, Neruda was a close collaborator to socialist President Salvador Allende.

Neruda was hospitalized with cancer at the time of the Chilean coup d'état led by Augusto Pinochet. Three days after being hospitalized, Neruda died of heart failure. Already a legend in life, Neruda's death reverberated around the world. Pinochet had denied permission to transform Neruda's funeral into a public event. However, thousands of grieving Chileans disobeyed the curfew and crowded the streets to pay their respects. Neruda's funeral became the first public protest against the Chilean military dictatorship.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 303 reviews
Profile Image for Alex.
1,418 reviews4,385 followers
July 22, 2018
The Chilean Pablo Neruda is officially the sexiest poet ever, which, like, do you think that worked out well for him? It sounds good, but remember - he's still a poet. Being the sexiest of all poets is like being the kindest of all cats, right?

I know what you're thinking, you're like what, are you crazy, people love poets, they get all kinds of horny for poets, read a girl/boy a poem and it's like guaranteed sploosh/sproing. But do they really? Ask yourself this: the situations you're thinking of when you say this, where some person or other was entranced by some romantic sexy dark brooding poet, did they happen in real life? Or did they happen in a book? Do you think it's possible that the person who wrote the book also wrote some poems? Are you thinking of Mary Shelley and that's all you got?

Here's what poets are like in real life: they are very poor and they want to talk all the fucking time. Also, homeboy looked like this


and if you're going to look like that you had better write some damn fine poetry just to get back to even.

But this is the dude who came up with this:
I want to do with you
what spring does with the cherry trees

so all bets are off at this point, and so are many of the panties.

That poem is from his first and most famous book, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, and it's not even in this collection, which is too bad, but there are others from it:
I went alone as a tunnel. Birds fled from me,
I was invaded by the power of the night

that make you grab the arms of your chair to hold you down, like you get vertigo, the lines are so strong. Here's that song of despair:

I no longer love her, it's true,
  but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, and forgetting is so long.

Oh god, right, where did you dig up so much truth?

What happens with Neruda is that there's a shift, and from the poet of sex he becomes the poet of revolution. Everything changes for him. People are mad. Where's the sexy stuff? they ask. He explains some things, in a poem called "I explain some things."

Through the streets the blood of the children
ran simply, like children's blood.
Facing you I have seen the blood
of Spain rise up
to drown you in one single wave
of pride and knives!
You will ask why his poetry
doesn't speak to us of dreams, of the leaves,
of the great volcanoes of his native land?

Come and see the blood in the streets,
come and see
the blood in the streets,
come and see the blood
in the streets!

So that's pretty straightforward. The blood of children in the streets is not sexy and his poetry became less sexy. He became a Marxist and a revolutionary, and he was eventually assassinated by Pinochet, not before winning the Nobel Prize and firmly establishing himself as one of the greatest poets of the century. Here are lines he wrote for his daughter, mortally ill:

You stand your ground, chock full
of teeth and lightning

These are dazzling things to say. Neruda's daughter died when she was eight.

I like this edition for its variety of translators, and its selection of poems from his whole life. Others will tell you to just go with 20 Love Songs because honestly, we just want the sexy stuff, right? I'm going to memorize some of this in Spanish and whisper it into someone's ear and then I'm gonna have seeeeeeeex, is what you're thinking. This edition has the Spanish on facing pages, so you will be able to do that, but listen: it will not work. You'll seem pretentious, and anyway that person will already have decided whether you're going to fuck or not, based almost entirely on how much they were in the mood to have sex before you even met. It was never about you at all.
164 reviews
June 11, 2008
I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.
Profile Image for Pradnya K..
265 reviews99 followers
December 4, 2015
Awesome, inspiring, picturesque, soothing, thought provoking, challenging, mystified, saddening - Neruda takes his reader through a plethora of the feelings, all the while never leaving his hand. And the reader would cling to it like a kid, fascinated to explore this new world full of wonders. Sometimes he makes you chuckle on the trivial detail looked from such an angel you'd never ever have imagined. Sometimes he leaves us in a mystified fog in heart or a rising smoke of craters of lava. The ocean and his lady love are the recurring visitors in his world. Many of the poems are subtly erotic and one couldn't help but feel how much in love he must be; for following his praise comes his vivid feelings full of love.

Intrigued I searched for him and was shocked to know he became politician in later part of life. And that his famous book was published when he was mere 19 years old. Well, I couldn't find the immaturity in the poems. I read other random poems online and would re-read them.
I had so much hoped to share some excerpts I had bookmarked but syncing my iPad, I lost many of my books including this one. I'm just short of crying in despair; there were so many books and so much highlighting job I did. I'd recover them eventually but it's a huge loss :(
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,385 reviews2,257 followers
May 28, 2022

I see your dry currents moving,
broken-off hands I see growing,
I hear your oceanic plants
creaking, shaken by night and fury,
and I feel leaves drying inwards,
amassing green materials
to your desolate stillness.

- - -

I leaned my head into the deepest waves,
I sank through the sulfuric peace,
and, like a blind man, returned to the jasmine
of the exhausted human springtime.

- - -

Your petals pound the surface of the world,
your underwater grains are always trembling,
the smooth green algae dangle their menace,
the schools of fish swim in their teeming swarms,
and all that comes up in the threaded nets
is the dead lightning of their scales,
a wounded millimeter in the distance
of all your crystalline totalities.

- - -

In the night, in your hand
my watch glowed
like a firefly.
I heard
its ticking:
like a dry whisper
it arose
from your invisible hand.
Then your hand
returned to my dark breast
to gather my sleep and its pulse.

- - -

And I, tiny being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars.
My heart broke loose with the wind.
Profile Image for Grey853.
1,394 reviews45 followers
August 3, 2007
Someone asked me why I had so many different copies of Neruda and I answered because no one book ever has all the poems or the translations that I want. That's the tricky thing about Neruda. It's also the reason I like dual translation editions, so I can see the original right next to the English.
Profile Image for William West.
328 reviews102 followers
February 4, 2013
I'll say that this, my first dip into the Neruda universe, affected me more than any encounter with 20th century poetry I've yet had. But I also haven't had many. I'm still at a "greatest hits" level when it comes to poetry, especially modern poetry. Before Neruda, I would have said Yates was my fave 20th century poet, much more than Eliot, but Neruda eclipsed them by a lot.

There's a line in the editor's introduction that compares Neruda's style to red wine. The comparison really stuck with me as I read the poems. They're natural yet dark, the elements imbedded in them, even deteriorating, but becoming richer to the senses for the decline. He's writing about his experiences with love and revolution, yet it seems more than universal- positively elemental.

The poems are arranged on a, more than less, chronological level. I found it a bit depressing that the last poems, such as "The Egoist," found the man self-critical for his withdrawal from the world. I felt a bit angry at him for withdrawing, as he had so much power to engage, but also angry at him for being angry at himself. He had given so much of himself to progress, and, in the early 1970s, was sensing early on the decline of the Left's advancements in the world. Perhaps he could not help but take these set-backs personally.
Profile Image for Lee.
104 reviews10 followers
November 30, 2009
I can write the saddest verses tonight

Write, for example, "The night is full of stars,
twinkling blue, in the distance."

The night wind spins in the sky and sings.

I can write the saddest verses tonight.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like this I held her in my arms.
I kissed her so many times beneath the infinite sky.

She loved me, at times I loved her too.
How not to have loved her great still eyes.

I can write the saddest verses tonight.
To think that I don't have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, more immense without her.
And the verse falls onto my soul like dew onto grass.

What difference that my love could not keep her.
The night is full of stars, and she is not with me.

That's all. In the distance, someone sings. In the

My soul is not at piece with having lost her.

Rumi inspires me. Rilke haunts me. Neruda picks me up by the nap of the neck and moves me around the room. All of a sudden I'm in and out of vivid imagery, situation, soulful connection. I love his work. Since Spanish is my second language I read the translations first, but then I read it once again just as he wrote it. So good.

Profile Image for Edita.
1,304 reviews394 followers
July 12, 2016
Leaning into the evenings I throw my sad nets
to your ocean eyes.

There my loneliness stretches and burns in the tallest bonfire,
arms twisting like a drowning man's.

I cast red signals over your absent eyes
which lap like the sea at the lighthouse shore.

You guard only darkness, my distant female,
sometimes the coast of dread emerges from your stare.

Leaning into the evenings I toss my sad nets
to that sea which stirs your ocean eyes.

The night birds peck at the first stars
that twinkle like my soul as I love you.

Night gallops on her shadowy mare
scattering blue wheat stalks over the fields.
Profile Image for Krista Claudine Baetiong.
259 reviews32 followers
February 20, 2022
Who wouldn’t love Pablo Neruda?

My long-standing love affair with him started during Humanities class in college when my professor made us read and interpret “Tonight I Can Write”. I found it to be the saddest poem, but it was also hauntingly beautiful and enthralling and held a deeper connection with my own juvenile heartache. Since then, I never stopped getting moved by his poetry.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,692 reviews452 followers
November 20, 2014
This bilingual book of poems was published in 2004, the centennial celebration of Pablo Neruda's birth. The collection gives an overview of his writing over the lifetime of this great Latin American poet. The editor chose eight poets to do the translations. The poems presented include some sensual love poems, and some political poems about both Chile and the Spanish Civil War. He wrote earthy poems about vineyards, gardens, the sea, and the ruins of Macchu Picchu. Death was prominent in some of his works, especially one written as his daughter was terminally ill. He also wrote a series of odes to various objects. I wish I knew more than a few words of Spanish since the original Spanish poems seemed to flow more musically. This is the beginning of Neruda's poem about his vocation in "Poetry":

"And it was at that age...poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river
I don't know how or when,
no, they weren't voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street it called me,
from the branches of the night,
abruptly from the others,
among raging fires
or returning alone,
there it was, without a face,
and it touched me."
Profile Image for vie.
54 reviews25 followers
August 8, 2007
Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks

All those men were there inside,
when she came in totally naked.
They had been drinking: they began to spit.
Newly come from the river, she knew nothing.
She was a mermaid who had lost her way.
The insults flowed down her gleaming flesh.
Obscenities drowned her golden breasts.
Not knowing tears, she did not weep tears.
Not knowing clothes, she did not have clothes.
They blackened her with burnt corks and cigarette stubs,
and rolled around laughing on the tavern floor.
She did not speak because she had no speech.
Her eyes were the colour of distant love,
her twin arms were made of white topaz.
Her lips moved, silent, in a coral light,
and suddenly she went out by that door.
Entering the river she was cleaned,
shining like a white stone in the rain,
and without looking back she swam again
swam towards emptiness, swam towards death.

u never cant have enuff neruda's books >:D<
Profile Image for David.
377 reviews25 followers
January 28, 2019
Some books are so good that they deserve to be given a place of prominence in a library, or book store. The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems was so beautiful, so haunting and so breathtakingly well written that it should be displayed only in the most prestigious of art galleries. Every word in this collections of poems, that covers a wide array of topics such as death, love, the Spanish Civil War, and worker's rights, feels as if it is a gift. This is why I love poetry!
Profile Image for Nick.
Author 21 books102 followers
February 14, 2017
To enter Neruda's world is to enter a place where words speak the unspeakable, words of power, class, and love. Neruda strips his world down to the essentials, and then cooks a feast of words on top of that, creating a sense of luxury, magic, and sometimes despair. His perspective is an essential one for the twentieth century.
Author 1 book498 followers
August 17, 2020
lovely, but i feel like i'd need better spanish to be able to fully appreciate. consider this english translation:

The peasant in the field ate
his poor quota of bread,
he was alone, it was late,
he was surrounded by wheat,
but he had no more bread;
he ate it with grim teeth,
looking at it with hard eyes.

and then the original:

Su oscura ración de pan
comió el campesino en el campo,
estaba solo y era tarde,
estaba rodeado de trigo,
pero no tenía más pan,
se lo comió con dientes duros,
mirándolo con ojos duros.

el campesino en el campo ... what a phrase. "peasant in the field" doesn't do that justice.
1 review2 followers
May 11, 2015
Pablo Neruda is one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century and in this particular collection of his work, he showcases that through and through. Neruda’s usage of metaphors throughout his work is awe inspiring but it ranges from simple basic concepts to more advanced usages that require advance knowledge over the symbolism that he is attempting to enact in the reader's emotions. You see the simplistic metaphor usage in “I Can Write The Saddest Verses” where the meaning of the piece is quite clear in that he speaks of a lost love. In contrast to “Dead Gallop” for example that doesn't necessarily give its point quite as directly as the latter did. The reader then must utilize context clues and pick up on the speaker’s usage of simile to compare what you would think to be uncomparable things.
Neruda has a way to consistently leave people in a daze with his words. He is able to invoke powerful emotions with the pen so much that you can picture clearly what he is saying. Out of this collection my personal favorite is “I Can Write the Saddest Verse”. It brings up images of pain and loss to me that I can easily relate to.
This is still the definitive collection of Neruda’s work. Here he showcases his diverse talents and his mastery of the manipulation of emotions. My only real disappointment comes from the lack of my favorite piece of his “And Because Love Battles”. Other than this small nit picking item this is an excellent collection. As well as a great way for people who may not have read Neruda’s work before to get in to.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example,'The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.
She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her void. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.
Profile Image for Louisa.
497 reviews364 followers
October 5, 2013
Neruda is perhaps most famous for his One Hundred Love Sonnets, especially XVII. He is also perhaps the greatest poet writing/having written in the Spanish language. Certainly his poetry transcends time - and this edition offers both the original Spanish and beautifully translated English versions. It's a great learning experience for people taking Spanish classes (like I am now). What more could you ask for?

Allow me to offer the following as an example:

Oda Al Libro (II): Ode to the Book (II)

minuscule forest,
after leaf,
your paper
of the elements,
you are
matutinal and nocturnal,
in your ancient pages
bear hunters,
near the Mississippi,
in the islands,
and roads,
Rimbaud like a wounded
fish bleeding
thumping in the mud,
and the beauty
of fellowship,
stone by stone
the human castle rises,
sorrows intertwined
with strength,
actions of solidarity,
from pocket
to pocket,
red star.

the wandering
the world,
at every door
life received us,
we took part
in the earthly struggle.
What was our victory?
A book,
a book full
of human touches,
of shirts,
a book
without loneliness, with men
and tools,
a book
is victory.
It lives and falls
like all fruit,
it doesn’t just have light,
it doesn’t just have
it fades,
it sheds its leaves,
it gets lost
in the streets,
it tumbled to earth.
book of poetry,
snow and moss
on your pages
so that footsteps
and eyes
may keep carving
once more
describe the world to us,
the springs
in the middle of the forest,
the high woodlands,
the polar
and man
on the roads,
on the new roads,
in the jungle,
in the water,
in the sky,
in the naked solitude of the sea,
the ultimate secrets,
with a book,
the hunter back again
with a book,
the farmer
with a book.
Profile Image for Caterina.
235 reviews89 followers
April 25, 2017
Can I give this six stars?

I had read very few of Neruda's poems before encountering this collection. He is now my favorite poet. I have read and re-read these diverse and gorgeous poems, and look forward to plunging deeper into his body of work.

Although I know little Spanish, I value being able to try to read it in the facing page translation format; sometimes I can begin to discern untranslatable sounds, rhythms, and multiple meanings.

Thank you, Mark Eisner, for this beautiful book.
Profile Image for Miroku Nemeth.
268 reviews57 followers
February 9, 2015
A beautiful and broad collection of his poems, from love to workers' rights....

"On our earth, before writing was invented, before the printing press was invented, poetry flourished. That is why we know that poetry is like bread; it should be shared by all, by scholars and by peasants, by all our vast, incredible, extraordinary family of humanity." Pablo Neruda

I Like You When You're Quiet

I like it when you're quiet. It's as if you weren't here now,
and you heard me from a distance, and my voice
couldn't reach you.
It's as if your eyes had flown away from you, and as if
your mouth were closed because I leaned to kiss you.

Just as all living things are filled with my soul,
you emerge from all living things filled with the soul of
It's as if, a butterfly in dreams, you were my soul,
and as if you were the soul's word, melancholy.

RH (7)

The title of "Essential Neruda" is apt in this collection not just for the beautiful and passionate love poetry that draws us initially to Neruda's works, but the love expanded into all of one's fellow men, especially the poor and working classes, and even those imprisoned. I wish that more poets took up the "Poet's Obligation".

To whomever is not listening to the sea
this Friday morning, to whomever is cooped up
in house or office, factory or woman
or street or mine or harsh prison cell:
to him I come, and, without speaking or looking,
I arrive and open the door of his prison,
and a vibration starts up, vague and insistent,
a great fragment of thunder sets in motion
the rumble of the planet and the foam,
the raucous rivers of the ocean flood,
the star vibrates swiftly in its corona,
and the sea is beating, dying and continuing.

AR 145

I have used the translation of "United Fruit" in my classes, and I think that one cannot teach the essence of Neruda without works like these. It is a work you will read and revisit again and again.
Profile Image for Joan Colby.
Author 48 books64 followers
September 20, 2013
There is no one like Neruda, particularly in the stunning imagery of the early poems. Nine translators are featured in this selection of Neruda’s work, Mark Eisner, John Felstiner, Forrest Gander, Robert Hass, Jack Hirschman, Stephen Kessler, Stephen Mitchell and Alastair Reid. Rather than quote poems in their entirety (as they deserve to be read) I’ll note just a few of the images that resonated for me. “death’s arrival on the ox’s tongue” “come near with an apple and a horse,/because there in lies a dark living room and a shattered candelabrum,/a few bent chairs waiting on winter,/and a dove, dead, with a number.” “when the furious condor, like a horseshoe of red-cased wings/hammers my temples in the order of flight” “let us spread great tablecloths,/put salt in the lakes of the world,/set up planetary bakeries,/tables with strawberries in snow,/and a plate like the moon itself/from which we can all eat.” “death in the bedsteads:/in the slow mattresses, in the black blankets/death stretches out like a clothesline, and then suddenly blows:/blows a dark sound that swells the sheets/and beds are sailing into a harbor/where death is waiting, dressed as an admiral.” Well, what can one say or do other than bow to his genius.
Profile Image for Holly.
143 reviews2 followers
October 12, 2022
"leaning into the evenings I throw my sad nets to your ocean eyes
there my loneliness stretches and burns in the tallest bonfire, arms twisting like a drowning mans"

2021: god I fucking love Neruda. so much. "were you to ask where I come from, I would have to talk with shattered things" - "why so many places, why does one day cling to another? why does a nights blackness drain into the mouth?" - "I toil deafly, circling above myself, like a raven above death"- like CMON man. he really did that huh. I'll be here on the floor if you need me.
Profile Image for C.
398 reviews36 followers
June 26, 2016
In the end, everyone is aware of this:
nobody keeps any of what he has,
and life is only a borrowing of bones.
The best thing was learning not to have too much
either of sorrow or of joy,
to hope for the chance of a last drop,
to ask more from honey and from twilight.

- Neruda, 'October Fullness'
Profile Image for Kate.
51 reviews1 follower
December 28, 2018
The translations in this edition are wonderful! They seem to me to do justice to Neruda's beautiful, dark, heartrending poems.
Profile Image for Philip.
976 reviews259 followers
March 6, 2021
Leí esto en inglés como en español. Puedo tratar a escribir estes notas del libro en español tambien, but that seems like a lot of work.

Honestly, my Spanish isn't at the level where I can read and appreciate Neruda in the original language yet. It's close enough, though where I can ask questions translators ask. Or seeing the difficulties they face. For instance:

“...haciendo un ruido de agrias aguas sobre las agrias aguas,” as “making a noise of sour waters over the sour waters”

The cadence. The doe of haciendo and doe of ruido. The agrias aguas as sour waters. Any translation will always feel... I don't know. Off.

And poets play. So, translators must be poets, too. Adjectival placement has linguistic rules that get tampered with when writing a poem. The poet makes intentional decisions. The translator must, by needs, as well.

A lot I liked. I even put one up as my quote of the day, a while back:

Ay, que lo que soy siga existiendo y cesando de existir,
y que mi obediencia de ordene se ordene con tales condiciones de hierro
el temblor de las muertas y de los nacimientos no conmueva
rotundo sitio que quiero reservar para mí eternamente.
Sea, pues, lo que soy, en alguna parte y en todo tiempo,
establecido y asegurado y ardiente testigo,
cuidadosamente destruyéndose y preservándose incesantemente,
evidentemente empeñado en su deber original.
~Pablo Neruda ~de Significa Sombras - 8-17-20

I didn’t write this on the board, but here’s the translation that was given in the book:

Oh, let what I am keep on existing and ceasing to exist,
and let my obedience align itself with such iron conditions
that the quaking of deaths and of births doesn’t shake
the deep place I want to reserve for myself eternally.

Let me, then, be what I am, wherever and in whatever weather,
rooted and certain and ardent witness,
carefully, unstoppably, destroying and saving himself,
openly engaged in his original obligation.

~Pablo Neruda ~from It Means Shadows - 8-17-20

(You can see that I've been reading it for a while. I'd check it out of the library, read a few or a bunch, return it. It was slow going, and mostly because I was pushing myself to try to not only read the original, but understand it as well. And think about those decisions that the translators made. But again, my Spanish is not there yet, so overall I failed at this, even though I succeeded in reading the book.)

I like it when you're quiet. (Page 7) Read it again.

Those Lives (171) - Read it again.

Towards the end of the poem,

If I remember anything in my life,
it was an afternoon in India, on the banks of a river.
They were burning a woman of flesh and bone
and I didn't know if what came from the sarcophagus
was soul or smoke,
until there was neither woman or fire
nor coffin nor ash. It was late,
and only the night, the water, the river, the darkness
lived on in that death.

Or here, in "El Pueblo" on page 162,

Creo que los que hicieron tantas cosas
deben ser duenos de todas las cosas.
Y los que hacen el pan deben comer!

Y deben tener luz los de la mina!

Basta ya de encadenados grises!

Basta de palidos desparecidos!

It's difficult to read that and remember who Pinochet is. To acknowledge that maybe the darkness is growing around us. Maybe. It certainly seems like it when one can openly see Proud Boys wearing shirts that say, "Pinochet Did Nothing Wrong."

But darkness and light always ebb and flow, right? Maybe the light is growing, too.
Profile Image for Eliza.
594 reviews1,375 followers
August 25, 2017
I don't have this book, but I've read most of the poems online. And let me tell you, they are gorgeous poems. Very descriptive and raw. Love. Love. Love.
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