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Pablo Neruda January 5, 2016

Posted by anagasto in history, poetry.
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Pablo Neruda is the pseudonym of Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, the son of a railway worker. His mother was a school teacher, and she died of tuberculosis soon after giving birth.


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In 1921 Neruda writes his world famous “Twenty love poems and a song”.
Even those who never read any poetry would probably have seen a line or two of his:

With you I want to do
what spring does to the cherry trees.

For Gabriel García Márquez, Neruda is “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.”

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Later he took up the Communist message and wrote his lyrics almost exclusively for the party. As a result, he ran politically into trouble.

In 1948 the government of Chile under Gonzalez Videla issued an order of arrest, and Neruda had to hide in a friend’s cellar until he could escape through the Andes.

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He traveled all over the world, and his poetry is a river of verbal beauty. Yet the content is nearly all communist propaganda with bombast  reminiscent of Walt Whitman………

…and yet beauty prevails:

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Damned year, year of decrepid roses,
year of rifles, look down,
don’t be blinded
by the aluminum of the plane, the music
of its harsh sonorous speed:
see your bread, your country, your people,
your lineage broken!
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Canto General: Paraguay, 1948

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In 1973 Neruda died of cancer.

Pinochet tried to prohibit a solemn public funeral. The chilenos ignored the curfew and filled the streets.

I even thinkt that you rule the universe.
I will bring you bright flowers from the mountains, lapagerias,
dark hazelnuts and nature’s baskets of kisses.

Hasta te creo dueña del universo.
Te traeré de las montañas flores alegres, copihues,
avellanas oscuras, y cestas silvestres de besos.

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Canto General

When the trumpet sounded
all was ready on Earth
And Jehova distributed the world
among Coca Cola Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors and other entities.
The United Fruit Co reserved for itself
the best
…. of my country
….called them “Banana republics”
set up an opera bufa


Cuando sonó la trompeta, estuvo
todo preparado en la tierra
y Jehová repartió el mundo:
a Coca Cola Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors y otras entidades;
La Compañía Frutera Inc.
se reservó lo más jugoso
……….de mi tierra.
…bautizó “Repúblicas bananeras”
…..estableció la ópera bufa

shortened from La United Fruit Co.
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Well?  Who knows ? Maybe a great poet is not necessarily also a great thinker?

Here is Neruda on “ The vast peace of Stalin’s Russia” . In retrospect it sounds like a very bad joke.

In three rooms of the Kremlin
there lives a man called Joseph Stalin.
The light in his room is on till late.

…… and  his children
carried the vast peace of Russia as far as Berlin.


En tres habitaciones del Kremlin
vive un hombre llamado José Stalin.
Tarde se apaga la luz de su cuarto..

……… y hasta Berlín sus hijos
…llevaron la paz ancha de Rusia…

From Que despierte el leñador : Let the woodworker wake up

That is the problem with poetry: it cannot easily serve propaganda purposes, because if it tries, it becomes prosaic or silly.

Begin** had been a prisoner in Siberia along with thousands of men supposedly missing who were building the trans-Siberian railway.  Of his Memoirs I remember that in the evening he looked towards the horizon thinking “there too men are crying”.
And 7 years later Neruda still didn’t know about it?

** Menachem Begin was born in Russia, declared a terrorist in Palaestina and later Prime Minister of Israel.

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El Parral, where Neruda was born, was struck by an earthquake that destroyed more than half of the houses. The town is poor and has not been able to recover.

De http://www.eltribuno.info/salta/diario/2010/03/11/internacional/parral-escribe-su-poema-mas-triste

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Comments»

1. Jimmy_rs - September 25, 2010

He is the greatest, he is the best.

2. yonderma'am - February 10, 2011

quite a nice bloggo yev got here… yes, when he was writing canto general he was a wanted man and escaped with it into the andes on horseback, hidden in a huge beard for once and the claim of being a timber prospector, riding into argentina with his poetry for the people. have you heard of red poppy? http://www.redpoppy.net/pablo_neruda.php
they are making a documentary about him, really lovely project, worth checking out.

3. Saddest Poem | enjang's blog - March 10, 2011

[…] Pablo Neruda (espliego.wordpress.com) […]

4. Arunava Chatterjee - August 24, 2011

Pablo Neruda was one of the greatest poets humankind has ever produced how much so the imperialists endeavour to downplay his poems as communist propaganda…….” Let the rail splitter awake………………


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