Chilean Poet and Diplomat, Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature
Pablo Neruda, pen name for Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto
Chilean Poet and Diplomat, Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature
You will ask why his poetry speak of dreams not of the leaves and 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 by streets!
This time is difficult, wait for me: we will live it out vividly. Give me your small hand: we will rise and suffer, we will feel and rejoice. We are once more the pair who lived in bristling places, in harsh nests in the rock. This time is difficult, wait for me with a basket, with a shovel, with your shoes and your clothes. Now we need each other not only for the carnations' sake, not only to look for honey: we need our hands to wash with and to make fire, and so let our difficult time stand up to infinity with four hands and four eyes.
We have to discard the past and, as one builds floor by floor, window by window, and the building rises, so do we keep shedding -- first, broken tiles, then proud doors, until, from the past, dust falls as if it would crash against the floor, smoke rises as if it were on fire, and each new day gleams like an empty plate. There is nothing, there was always nothing. It all has to be filled with a new, expanding fruitfulness; then, down falls yesterday as in a well falls yesterday's water, into the cistern of all that is now without a voice, without fire. It is difficult to get bones used to disappearing, to teach eyes to close, but we do it unwittingly. Everything was alive, alive, alive, alive like a scarlet fish, but time passed with cloth and darkness and kept wiping away the flash of the fish. Water water water, the past goes on falling although it keeps a grip on thorns and on roots. It went, it went, and now memories mean nothing. Now the heavy eyelid shut out the light of the eye and what was once alive is now no longer living; what we were, we are not. And with words, although the letters still have transparency and sound, they change, and the mouth changes; the same mouth is now another mouth; they change, lips, skin, circulation; another soul took on our skeleton; what once was in us now is not. It left, but if they call, we reply I am here, and we realize we are not, that what was once, was and is lost, lost in the past, and now does not come back.
While I'm writing, I'm far away; and when I come back, I've gone.
You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs? and the poppy-petalled metaphysics? and the rain repeatedly spattering its words and drilling them full of apertures and birds.
You will ask: And where are the lilacs? And the metaphysical blanket of poppies? And the rain that often struck your words filling them with holes and birds?
In a kiss, you know all that I kept silence.
It seems that your eyes had flown away and it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth. As all things are filled with my soul you emerge from the things, filled with my soul. Butterfly dream, you look like my soul and you look like the word melancholy.
Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips: maybe it was the voice of the rain crying, a cracked bell, or a torn heart. Something from far off: it seemed deep and secret to me, hidden by the earth, a shout muffled by huge autumns, by the moist half-open darkness of the leaves. Wakening from the dreaming forest there, the hazel-sprig sang under my tongue, its drifting fragrance climbed up through my conscious mind as if suddenly the roots I had left behind cried out to me, the land I had lost with my childhood?-and I stopped, wounded by the wandering scent.
My soul is an empty carousel at sunset.
Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost, I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you. There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit. There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.
Perhaps this war will pass like the others which divided us leaving us dead, killing us along with the killers but the shame of this time puts its burning fingers to our faces. Who will erase the ruthlessness hidden in innocent blood?
Sometimes I get up at dawn, and even my soul is wet.
The mistakes which led me to a relative truth and the truths which repeatedly led me back to the mistakes did not allow me - and I never made any claims to it - to find my way to lead, to learn what is called the creative process, to reach the heights of literature that are so difficult of access. But one thing I realized - that it is we ourselves who call forth the spirits through our own myth-making. From the matter we use, or wish to use, there arise later on obstacles to our own development and the future development. We are led infallibly to reality and realism, that is to say to become indirectly conscious of everything that surrounds us and of the ways of change, and then we see, when it seems to be late, that we have erected such an exaggerated barrier that we are killing what is alive instead of helping life to develop and blossom. We force upon ourselves a realism which later proves to be more burdensome than the bricks of the building, without having erected the building which we had regarded as an indispensable part of our task. And, in the contrary case, if we succeed in creating the fetish of the incomprehensible (or the fetish of that which is comprehensible only to a few), the fetish of the exclusive and the secret, if we exclude reality and its realistic degenerations, then we find ourselves suddenly surrounded by an impossible country, a quagmire of leaves, of mud, of cloud, where our feet sink in and we are stifled by the impossibility of communicating.
Then I speak to her in a language she has never heard, I speak to her in Spanish, in the tongue of the long, crepuscular verses of D¡az Casanueva; in that language in which Joaqu¡n Edwards preaches nationalism. My discourse is profound; I speak with eloquence and seduction; my words, more than from me, issue from the warm nights, from the many solitary nights on the Red Sea, and when the tiny dancer puts her arm around my neck, I understand that she understands. Magnificent language!
I want to see thirst in the syllables, tough fire in the sound; feel through the dark for the scream.
In love, you have loosened yourself like seawater.
It spreads in the crisis, in other genesis, in the cataclysm, the body of the woman I love, obsidian, agate, sapphire, granite whipped by the wind of the salt of Antofagasta.
Love has to be?flowering like the stars, and measureless as a kiss.
My struggle is harsh and I come back with eyes tired at times from having seen the unchanging earth, but when your laughter enters it rises to the sky seeking me and it opens for me all the doors of life. My love, in the darkest hour your laughter opens, and if suddenly you see my blood staining the stones of the street, laugh, because your laughter will be for my hands like a fresh sword. Laugh at the night, at the day, at the moon, laugh at the twisted streets of the island, laugh at this clumsy boy who loves you, but when I open my eyes and close them, when my steps go, when my steps return, deny me bread, air, light, spring, but never your laughter for I would die.
Oh love, rose made wet by mermaids and foams, fire that dances and climbs up the invisible stairs and awakens the blood in the tunnel of sleeplessness.
Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread.
Sometimes we followed a very faint trail, perhaps left by smugglers or ordinary criminals in flight, and we did not know whether many of them had perished, surprised by the icy hands of winter, by the fearful snowstorms which suddenly rage in the Andes and engulf the traveler, burying him under a whiteness seven stories high.
The moon lives in the lining of your skin.
Then scale by scale, we strip off he delicacy and eat the peaceful mush of its green heart.