Pablo Neruda: A poet of dreams and destiny


One of my favourite lines of poetry is from a translation of Pablo Neruda’s Spanish poem: Is there anything in the world sadder/ than a train standing in the rain?

Chilean poet Neruda was born in July 1904 in Parral, Chile, South America and died of leukemia in Santiago, Chile in 1973.What we have of him is a huge legacy of poetry that reflect an era. As far as I know, even 33 years after his death Pablo Neruda is still considered the most celebrated Latin American poet. He has written beautiful love poems as well as fiery socio-political ones. He was an inspiration for a number of writers in India in the 60s and 70s of 20th century.

Neruda recieved the Nobel in Literature in 1971 “for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams.” Here is an excerpt form his well known poem. Wll post a couple of more later.

I’ll Explain some Things 

You’ll ask, Where are the lilacs?
And the philosophy dreamy with poppies?
And the rain which kept beating out
Your words, filling them
With water-specks and birds?

I’m going to tell you everything that happened to me.
I lived in a neighborhood
In Madrid with church bells
And clock towers and trees.

 From there you could see
The dry face of Castille
Like a sea of leather
My house was called
“The house with the flowers” because around it
Geraniums exploded. It was
A beautiful house
With dogs and kids.

…..Then one morning flames
Came out of the ground
Devouring human beings.
From then on fire,
Gunpowder from then on,
From then on blood.
Jackals that a jackal would reject
Stones that a dry thistle would bite and spit out
Vipers that vipers would hate!

 I have seen the blood
Of Spain rise up against you
To drown you in a single wave
Of pride and knives!
Look at my dead home
Look at broken
Spain –
But from each dead house
Burning metal shoots out
Instead of flowers.
From every shell-hole in Spain
Spain will rise.
From every dead child a rifle with
Eyes will rise.
From every crime bullets will be born
Which will one day find a place
In your hearts.

You ask “Why doesn’t your poetry
Speak to us of dreams and leaves
Of the great volcanoes of your native land?”
See the blood along the streets
Come see
The blood along the streets
Come see the blood
Along the Streets!

 Pablo Neruda

Train Standing in the Rain 
Tell me, is the rose naked 
or is that her only dress?
Why do trees conceal  

the splendor of their roots?  

Who hears the regrets 
 of the thieving automobile?
Is there anything in the world sadder 
than a train standing in the rain?

(Translated by William O’Daly)

One response »

  1. Few can change their sorroundings with their dreams. Poetry is a magic dream. He lived his magic, and shared it.

    How can we live our dreams?
    How can we fly with dreamcatchers?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s