Pablo Neruda turns 100

drom et reve
Reply Wed 14 Jul, 2004 08:06 am
Los versos del capitán is a wonderful book. Unlike most poets, 'though, his work did not get any worse through time.

Here's a fairly simple, but a thoroughly aesthetic, poem from The Captain's verse

EL viento es un caballo:
óyelo cómo corre
por el mar, por el cielo.

Quiere llevarme: escucha
cómo recorre el mundo
para llevarme lejos.

Escóndeme en tus brazos
por esta noche sola,
mientras la lluvia rompe
contra el mar y la tierra
su boca innumerable.

Escucha cómo el viento
me llama galopando
para llevarme lejos.

Con tu frente en mi frente,
con tu boca en mi boca,
atados nuestros cuerpos
al amor que nos quema,
deja que el viento pase
sin que pueda llevarme.

Deja que el viento corra
coronado de espuma,
que me llame y me busque
galopando en la sombra,
mientras yo, sumergido
bajo tus grandes ojos,
por esta noche sola
descansaré, amor mío.

The wind is a horse:
hear how it runs
through the sea, through the sky.

He wants to seize me: listen
how he roves the world
to take me far away.

Hide me in your arms
just for this night,
while the rain breaks
against sea and earth
its innumerable mouth.

Listen how the wind
calls to me galloping
to take me far away.

With your brow on my brow,
with your mouth on my mouth,
our bodies tied
to the love that consumes us,
let the wind pass
and not take me away.

Let the wind rush
crowned with foam;
let it call to me, to seek me
galloping in the shadow,
while I, sunk
beneath your big eyes,
just for this night
shall rest, my love.

0 Replies
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 09:30 am
God I hate Pablo Neruda and his adolescent school-girl ramblings.
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 09:44 am
Not as much as I hate it when people knock the love poems he wrote as a teenager. What were you writing at 19?

Is there no sophistication to his later works, his odes?
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 05:23 pm
"What were you writing at 19?"

IOUs mostly.

Isn't that what teens are supposed to do?

Anyhow, all his poetry has a naive, adolescent feel about it. And, I'm a big fan of free verse, right, but his is just prose. The kind of prose a Britney Spears sixteen year old schoolgirl who thinks she's an undiscovered genius writes in her diary. But at least those types are mortified when they get older and reread their drivel and do the decent thing and burn it. Now we have to suffer boho students spouting how awesome he is all over the internet. He really isn't. He is technically a very poor poet. If he hadn't been a commie, would he have been so famous? (Before you all assume I'm some neo-con from the deep south, I'm English and was a member of the British Communist Party for two years).

Keats, Eliot, Frost, Coleridge, Tennyson, Owen - they're technically fine poets and write on bigger subjects than that wankmonger.

(By the way, I should point out my comments are of little worth as I, speaking no Spanish aside, Mi gusta burrito, am only familiar with translations of his work. But still - I hate him!)
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 10:21 am
I think you're wrong.

Now I understand that you, and many others, even poets I know personally, don't like Neruda. And I understand he is lauded by many, including many who like poetry in general but don't love it. Perhaps this irks you in the way that widespread reverence for Charles Bukowski irks me. And indeed we have to put up with all the coffee shop open-mic night assholes these poets have left in their wake.

Yet I disagree that Neruda's poetry has a "naive, adolescent feel" about it. You've admitted that this should not be attributed to his free verse. Okay. What accounts for this "feel," then? I'm left to suspect you're just being contrarian. Okay. I do that on this site all the time.

But leave it that. Don't make haphazard comparisons to a random smorgasbord of poets, and intimate that depth of subject is an issue. First of all, not only were Keats and Neruda writing in a different language, they were writing in a different century. That tends to affect diction. Like, if Merwin (or Mitchell or whichever translation you've read) were an early 19th century British Romantic, his Neruda translations would be just a wee bit different.

Secondly, per "The kind of prose a Britney Spears sixteen year old schoolgirl who thinks she's an undiscovered genius writes in her diary." What kind of prose would that be exactly, maybe something like, "More happy love! more happy, happy love!" Sound familiar? My point being Keats and Neruda were both essentially Romantic poets, were they not? Neruda's "Ode to a Watch in the Night" is about, most obviously, time (it would be too embarrassing for me to deconstruct the poem here and pontificate like total jerkoff on the futility of physical love's struggle to transcend time). But what's a "bigger subject" than time? Doesn't Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" address the exact same theme?

Or is Neruda's transgression that he doesn't indebt himself to Greek mythology? I'm being slightly facetious. I admit that, in this respect, there are more layers (density) to Keats' work, much more happening per line, than in Nerudas'. Then again, the simplicity of Neruda's lines leaves space for the reader to infuse them with his own complex associations regarding time, or whatever the subject may be.

At which point it becomes a matter of personal preference.
0 Replies
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 10:32 am
This is totally going to send me on a Keats kick, BTW.
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 04:14 pm
You're a hundred per cent right, Gargamel. And you've got me. It's just a personal irk thing. I can't help it! And I admitted previously, I am not qualified to have an opinion on the subject really as I speak (and read) no Spanish. It's all personal taste as you say...

I don't know though. I looked at The Artichoke again (OK, in English!) and it just really annoys me! And stuff like, "The wind is a horse" just sound so stale and contrived, cliched even. Like an adolescent trying to sound bohemian and deep. Do you know what I mean?
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 04:58 pm
I wish I could read the Spanish.
0 Replies
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 05:47 pm
"The wind is a horse," I agree, is not Neruda's best moment.
Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 02:24 am
I think this is one of his better moments though:

Brown and Agile Child
by Pablo Neruda

Brown and agile child, the sun which forms the fruit
And ripens the grain and twists the seaweed
Has made your happy body and your luminous eyes
And given your mouth the smile of water.

A black and anguished sun is entangled in the twigs
Of your black mane when you hold out your arms.
You play in the sun as in a tidal river
And it leaves two dark pools in your eyes.

Brown and agile child, nothing draws me to you,
Everything pulls away from me here in the noon.
You are the delirious youth of bee,
The drunkedness of the wave, the power of the heat.

My somber heart seeks you always
I love your happy body, your rich, soft voice.
Dusky butterfly, sweet and sure
Like the wheatfiled, the sun, the poppy, and the water.

(although I have to admit I've liked it since I was a teenager).

0 Replies

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