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June 2004
July 2004



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I Remember You As You Were: Pablo Neruda

Today is the 100th birthday of Pablo Neruda. Neruda won the Nobel Prize in Literature "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams". "How could poetry bring alive a continent's destiny and dreams?", u might exclaim, well, a little history is in order. But before that a little appetizer.

Neruda is famous for the intensity of his romantic poems; you should also know that most anyone with a good taste for romantic poetry would have heard of Neruda. Miramax made a film about Neruda 'II Postino'. Julia Roberts walked into the Miramax office hearing about the upcoming movie. She was carrying six of her favorite Pablo Neruda poetry collections; She got a role in the movie after everyone was left enchanted by her reading of Neruda's poetry.

The poems were originally written in Spanish, so what you see here is only a translation. If only if I had learnt Spanish :( Now, I read "The twenty poems of love" long time back and believe me, Neruda's poetry is like a treasure that you will want to mine time and time again. I started writing about Poem XX: "Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines" to highlight the intensity and anger of Neruda, but my mood was better suited to the following poem.

Poem LXXXI: And now your are mine

And now you'’re mine. Rest with your dream in my dream.
Love and pain and work should all sleep now.
The night turns on its invisible wheels,
and you are pure beside me as a sleeping amber.

No one else, Love, will sleep in my dreams. You will go,
we will go together, over the waters of time.
No one else will travel through the shadows with me,
only you, evergreen, ever sun, ever moon.

Your hands have already opened their delicate fists
and let their soft drifting signs drop away,
your eyes closed like two gray wings, and I move
after, following the folding water you carry, that carries me away.
The night, the world, the wind spin out their destiny.
Without you, I am your dream, only that, and that is all.

All the poems in this collection use the imagery of nature, the ocean, the sun, the moon. "We will go together, over the waters of time. No one will travel thru the shadows with me". Now the lines "Your hands have already opened their delicate fists/and let their soft drifting signs drop away" might not be the easiest to grasp. This is my interpretation. There is an optional wedding ceremony wherein the bride and the groom pour sand into a container. The gist of it being that once the sand has been mixed, there is no way the 'groom's sand' and the 'bride's sand' can be separated.

Especially telling is the way Neruda ends it- "Without you, I am your dream, only that, and that is all."

Profundities ::

At July 13, 2004 at 3:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would respect more if it weren't for the fact the man was a communist.


At July 13, 2004 at 9:26 AM, Blogger mr said...

good point. (someone has a firm grasp on romantic/spanish poetry).

Niraj, I was actually planning on writing a lil bit about his story, wrote a para on history, but decided not to post it, I thought most people would care less if they knew that he was a senator/commie/exile/...

At July 19, 2004 at 6:57 PM, Blogger dponce80 said...

Why the hell should anyone give a good goddamn if he was a commie, or a terrorist, or a jap, or a negro, or whatever?? Jesus! Can't people separate the work from the man? Why is it harder to appreciate true beauty because if comes from a source whose political convictions don't agree with ours?

Couple of hundred years ago, if a woman has been the subject of discussion, you would have said "Yeah, it's not bad, but it's a shame it comes from a woman" (!!!) Why does so much time have to go by, before people realize the bigotry of their prejudices?

I'll tell you something. I speak spanish. It's my mother tongue. Then french, then english. No matter how beautiful the poems are in english, there's just something about the spanish words that makes the hairs on my arms raise. The words themselves, their sound, are just unmatched in any language you try to translate spanish poetry into. It's a shame people would have to point out he was a communist... as if somehow that affected the aesthetics of his writings.

Shame on you!

At July 19, 2004 at 8:09 PM, Blogger mr said...

dponce80, it is readers like you who give me the encouragement to post works from authors like Neruda.

btw, you seem to have taken offence at nothing; I wouldn't have paid homage to Neruda had i not had a similar outlook as yours.

Let me clarify if my comments confused you: I was encouraging the previous commentor for his grasp of Neruda's history, not for what was said!

Secondly, when you say "I thought most people would care less if they knew that he was a senator/commie/" the meaning is that most people would continue to love his poems even if they knew he was a senator/commie...

I would love to hear from a person who can read Spanish about Neruda's influence on the common man who grew up reading his works.

At July 20, 2004 at 4:10 PM, Blogger dponce80 said...

I didn't get offended at what you said. rather at what Niraj said. It's sad to see people like that. I imagine they despise the writing of Khalil Gibran... because he's an arab.

Sad, really.

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