For the 2013 National Poetry Month Blog Tour hosted by Savvy Verse & Wit, I thought it would be fun to read some of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s work. I borrowed this very short collection, Love: Ten Poems by Pablo Neruda, from Serena, and it was a good place to start. These poems are from the movie Il Postino (The Postman), which I haven’t seen. (I wonder if I would have enjoyed them even more if I’d seen the movie?)
Neruda’s use of language is beautiful, with unforgettable lines like “Love is so short, forgetting is so long” from “Tonight I Can Write.” I especially love how this collection has the original Spanish on the left and the English translation on the right. Some of the poems felt a bit over my head but sounded nice when read aloud — but they sounded even better when read aloud in Spanish. I finished this collection thinking that I need to add Neruda to my poetry shelf!
Here’s my favorite poem from the collection:
by Pablo Neruda, translated by Alastair Reid
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 were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires,
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.
I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe
And I, infinitesimal 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 on the wind.
(pages 7, 9)
I love the idea of poetry as a being, seeking out the poet, how poetry is a calling, something that chooses the poet. And I love the idea that poetry is used to explain, describe, feel, experience, and find wisdom in the “big” things.
What do you think? What’s your favorite poem by Pablo Neruda?
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