[extropy-chat] Meanwhile: An overdue ode to Pablo Neruda

Amara Graps amara at amara.com
Wed Jul 7 14:03:16 UTC 2004


Meanwhile: An overdue ode to Pablo Neruda

Carolyn Curiel NYT
Wednesday, July 07, 2004

NEW YORK That Pablo Neruda was the greatest poet of the last century
is beyond argument in much of South America. Certainly he ranks with
the most prolific. Among his hundreds of works, there are sonnets,
odes, epics and something greater: longevity. Three decades after his
death, Neruda, who would have been 100 years old next Monday, is again
heating up the world with his metaphors.

Devotees from New Delhi to Santiago, in his native Chile, are
gathering for breathless readings and deeper discussions of this
complicated man, a sensual communist who loved nature almost as much
as he loved women, food and wine. A 1971 Nobel laureate, he was also
an ambassador and a politician who sat in the Senate and ran for
president. In his teens he took a pen name drawn from the Czech
writer, Jan Neruda. The lyrical carnality of his second book of
poetry, "Veinte Poemas de Amor y una Cancion Desesperada" ("Twenty
Love Poems and a Song of Despair"), brought him fame by the age of 20.
But for Neruda, love and beauty vied for attention with social

The poet's outspoken politics made him unwelcome in his native country
for a time, a legacy the current government of Chile hopes to bury
with praise. Neruda fled Chile in 1948 and spent years in exile after
he criticized President Gabriel González Videla's turn to the right in
the late 1940s. It was in this period that he produced his epic "Canto
General," a loving look at South America's geography and people,
ranging from "The Heights of Machu Picchu" to the lows of imperialism.

Neruda eludes easy categorization. His themes of personal and
political liberation may have echoed Walt Whitman, William Blake and
Charles Baudelaire. But his surreal imagery and energy, which animated
topics as mundane as his "Ode to the Onion," were all his own.

Neruda's timeless musings on lost love and the truths of the human
heart might alone prompt worldwide remembrance.


The Word

Pablo Neruda
Full Powers

The word was born
in the blood,
it grew in the dark body, pulsing,
and took flight with the lips and mouth.

Farther away and nearer,
still, still it came
from dead fathers and from wandering races,
from territories that had become stone,
that had tired of their poor tribes,
because when grief set out on the road
the people went and arrived
and united new land and water
to sow their word once again.
And that's why the inheritance is this:
this is the air that connects us
with the buried man and the dawn
of new beings that haven't yet arisen.

Still the atmosphere trembles
with the first word
with panic and groaning.
It emerged
from the darkness
and even now there is no thunder
that thunders with the iron sound
of that word,
the first
word uttered:
perhaps it was just a whisper, a raindrop,
but its cascade still falls and falls.

Later on, meaning fills the word.
It stayed pregnant and was filled with lives,
everything was births and sounds:
affirmation, clarity, strength,
negation, destruction, death:
the name took on all the powers
çv and combined existence with essence
in its electric beauty.

Human word, syllable, flank
of long light and hard silver,
hereditary goblet that receives
the communications of the blood:
it is here that silence was formed by
the whole of the human word
and not to speak is to die among beings:
language extends out to the hair,
the mouth speaks without moving the lips:
suddenly the eyes are words.

I take the word and move
through it, as if it were
only a human form,
its lines delight me and I sail
in each resonance of language:
I utter and I am
and across the boundary of words,
without speaking, I approach silence.

I drink to the word, raising
a word or crystalline cup,
in it I drink
the wine of language
or unfathomable water,
maternal source of all words,
and cup and water and wine
give rise to my song
because the name is origin
and green life: it is blood,
the blood that expresses its substance,
and thus its unrolling is prepared:
words give crystal to the crystal,
blood to the blood,
and give life to life.


Amara Graps, PhD             email: amara at amara.com
Computational Physics        vita:  ftp://ftp.amara.com/pub/resume.txt
Multiplex Answers            URL:   http://www.amara.com/
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
       --Anais Nin

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