Saturday, March 12, 2011

A little bit of Neruda everyday please!

Pablo Neruda. His simple style and unique metaphors managed to capture my immediate interest when I first read his poetry. He went on effortlessly to be a part of my "favourites" list! His works reflect the political struggle of the left and the socio-historical developments in South America. Neruda's use of poetic devices almost always adds a touch of beauty even to the most disturbing and grimmest of his poems.Along with his political poems, Pablo Neruda has also written a range of poems about love. He proves his diversity as a poet by writing about these extremely subjective emotions with such subtlety and with such uniqueness. You don’t necessarily need to connect with his ways of tackling the subject of love. But at the end of the poem so simple and so seemingly clear and direct, thoughts within you are sure to be stirred !

Here is one of his poems that I particularly like. It is called 'The Dead Woman'. Neruda talks about two of his favourite subjects ; that of love and that of political struggle. He brings them in contact with each other. The poem is addressed to a beloved. The poet doesn’t seem to be in any sort of conflict while making a choice between the 'love for his beloved' and the 'love for his people'. Right from the beginning he doesn’t deter from his ideology of fighting for the rights of his people. Before fingers could be judgingly pointed out to his seemingly “insensitive nature”, the poet reasons out with his lover. This reasoning is what appeals to me the most. He says that he will never stop loving her even when she is no longer with him. But he wont stop living his own life as he is bound to his fellow citizens and country. He will no doubt feel the sting of the loss of his beloved but he wont waver from the path he has chosen. He wont ever leave his fellow men hanging. This is his way of proving his eternal love to her - by continuing to be the man who she first fell in love with.

Here's the poem:

If suddenly you do not exist,
if suddenly you no longer live,
I shall live on.

I do not dare,
I do not dare to write it,
if you die.

I shall live on.

For where a man has no voice,
there, my voice.

Where blacks are beaten,
I cannot be dead.
When my brothers go to prison
I shall go with them.

When victory,
not my victory,
but the great victory comes,
even though I am mute I must speak;
I shall see it come even
though I am blind.

No, forgive me.
If you no longer live,
if you, beloved, my love,
if you have died,
all the leaves will fall in my breast,
it will rain on my soul night and day,
the snow will burn my heart,
I shall walk with frost and fire and death and snow,
my feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping, but
I shall stay alive,
because above all things
you wanted me indomitable,
and, my love, because you know that I am not only a man
but all mankind.


  1. Nice.

    Shibu went to his house in Chile.

    And of course as happens everywhere met Chileans who went "there are other better poets like Huidobro" :-)

  2. Oh did he?! nice nice. :)
    Why do people do that? Probably its their way of looking down upon the "limited" and "cliched" knowledge of foreigners. :P
    But no denying that fact that Neruda was good.His poetry does convey his ideas beautifully.(Dont know about the kind of person he was, if that's what the locals imply when they say that Huidobro was a better poet;which may in fact mean that he was a better "human"!)Just a thought. :P

  3. Yes it's like we know what is really good in our culture kind of thing and anything popular with furriners is instantly suspect.