Arlene's Reviews > I Explain a Few Things: Selected Poems

I Explain a Few Things by Pablo Neruda
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it was amazing
bookshelves: poetry, read-2010

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 Spanish piece to the left and a translated version to enjoy on the right. For many of the poems, I actually read the Spanish version first and almost always found myself seeing the loss of its essence in the translation, no reflection on the translator by any means, but just so much more beautiful in its original language.

Neruda once said that, "There is no unassailable solitude. All roads lead to the same point; to a communication of who we are, and we must travel across lonely and rugged terrain, through isolation and silence to reach the magic zone where we can dance an awkward dance." In his poetry, I detected this sense of isolation of which he spoke of, and I enjoyed his raw truth of how he saw the world.

His poetry runs a wide gamut of topics, including odes to fruits and vegetables, responses to critics of his poetry, even the beauty that is the great dictionary. At times, I got the sense that he was not sharing everything with his readers, but just scratching the surface of his musings, feelings and thoughts to achieve a sense of obscurity or secrecy in his poetry.

My favorite of all of his works are the One Hundred Love Sonnets, including: "..I love the handful of the earth you are because of its meadows, vast as a planet,
I have no other star. You are my replica of the multiplying universe…"
and "…Deprive me bread, air, light, spring but never your laughter for I will die…" There are more to these two poems, but I must say, the Spanish versions are much more poetic and melodic.

Overall, I'm not a huge fan of poetry, but I found something I can enjoy in Neruda.
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Reading Progress

March 8, 2010 – Started Reading
March 8, 2010 – Shelved
March 10, 2010 – Shelved as: poetry
March 10, 2010 – Shelved as: read-2010
March 10, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Albie46 (new)

Albie46 OH I"m glad you enjoyed Pablo. I really like his way with words. I remember reading, or having his poetry read to me, in college.


Arlene Albie46 wrote: "OH I"m glad you enjoyed Pablo. I really like his way with words. I remember reading, or having his poetry read to me, in college."

Yes, I did enjoy his poems. Thank you for the rec!


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