Pablo Neruda--Chilean


   

Pablo Neruda
(1904-1973)

 

Born in 1904 in Chile, Pablo Neruda began writing poetry at an early age and had his first poem published at the age of thirteen.  Neruda is best known as a poet, but he served as a consul for the Chilean government and traveled on behalf of the government to Burma, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore, Argentina and Spain.  Neruda’s close friend, García Lorca, was murdered during the Spanish Civil War and his death affected him greatly.  In response to Lorca’s murder, Neruda joined the Republican movement in Spain and later in France.  In 1939, he was appointed consul for the Spanish emigration in France, and soon after sent to Mexico.  There he rewrote his Canto General de Chile, an epic poem about South America.  In 1945 he was elected a senator.  He openly opposed the then repressive government of Chile and was forced to live underground in his own country for several years.  He managed to leave in 1949, but returned in 1952. Throughout his lifetime Neruda continued to write.  He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.  He died in 1973.


The Sadder Century

The century of émigrés,
the book of homelessness--
gray century, black book.
This is what I ought to leave
written in the open book,
digging it out from the century,
tinting the pages with spilled blood.

I lived the abundance
of those lost in the jungle:
I counted the cutoff hands
and the mountains of ash
and the fragmented cries
and the without-eyes glasses
and the headless hair.

Then I searched the world
for those who lost their country,
pointlessly carrying
their defeated flags,
their Stars of David,
their miserable photographs.

I too knew homelessness.

But as a seasoned wanderer,
I returned empty-handed
to this sea that knows me well.
But others remain
and are still at bay,
leaving behind their loved ones, their errors
thinking maybe
but knowing never again

and this is how I ended up sobbing
the dusty sob
intoned by the homeless.
This is the way I ended celebrating
with my brothers (those who remain)
the victorious building,
the harvest of new bread.