I love the poetry of Pablo Neruda. Beneath the poems I’ve put a blurb and link about his life and work. I wish I knew Spanish so I could read the originals. The first one is just beautiful imagery: I love the last two lines of the second verse, and they are in bold for that reason.

The second one is dark and hard to read, yes, but real and somehow I feel like those harsh things can’t be avoided just because they make me uncomfortable. Discomfort spurs action and desire to prevent and protect the vulnerable. I’ve, regrettably, found myself thinking about the people who become well-manicured, powerful monsters, as described in the poem, and how they come to this state (blame the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, who makes me shudder every time I see his sneering arrogant face anywhere). Acts of violence should always raise exclamation marks, but especially question marks — it is apathy that kills.

I did, however, put it behind an lj-cut because I am not you and you are not me.

A little light and a little shadow.

Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Pablo Neruda

The Dictators


An odor has remained among the sugarcane:
a mixture of blood and body, a penetrating
petal that brings nausea.
Between the coconut palms the graves are full
of ruined bones, of speechless death-rattles.
The delicate dictator is talking
with top hats, gold braid, and collars.
The tiny palace gleams like a watch
and the rapid laughs with gloves on
cross the corridors at times
and join the dead voices
and the blue mouths freshly buried.
The weeping cannot be seen, like a plant
whose seeds fall endlessly on the earth,
whose large blind leaves grow even without light.
Hatred has grown scale on scale,
blow on blow, in the ghastly water of the swamp,
with a snout full of ooze and silence.

Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda (July 12, 1904–September 23, 1973) was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean writer and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto.

With his works translated into manifold languages, Pablo Neruda is considered one of the greatest and most influential poets of the 20th century. Neruda was accomplished in a variety of styles ranging from erotically charged love poems like his collection Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair, surrealist poems, historical epics, and overtly political manifestos. In 1971 Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature, a controversial award because of his political activism. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language”.[1]

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