Was the greatest poet of the 20th century murdered?
It made me feel quite sad reading about this, as Pablo Neruda is one of, if not my number one favourite poet. Having been celebrated as ‘the greatest poet of the 20th century’, Neruda is well known for his sensual love poems, Twenty Love Songs and a Song of Despair selling over one million copies since its publication in 1924. It was believed that Neruda died from his battle with prostrate cancer, but now it has shockingly emerged that he may have been poisoned under the orders of Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet, during his hospital stay for cancer treatment. Neruda was a leftwing politician who was preparing to go into exile in Mexico, rather than submit to Pinochet and his dictatorship. His body is now to be exhumed in an attempt to find out how he really died. What made me more sad however is the amount of people who haven’t even heard of Pablo Neruda, let alone know how he died. His work is wonderfully passionate, evocative and extremely moving.
“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”
I mean, wow. Neruda somehow manages to capture an emotion in his poetry that I thought was near to impossible to express into words. Are any of you out there Neruda fans? If so, what are you favourite poems/ lines? I absolutely love ‘Tonight I can Write’, but ‘I Have Gone Marking’ is definitely one of my favourites. It’s such a beautiful piece of poetry:
I have gone marking the atlas of your body
with crosses of fire.
My mouth went across: a spider, trying to hide.
In you, behind you, timid, driven by thirst.
Stories to tell you on the shore of evening,
sad and gentle doll, so that you should not be sad.
A swan, a tree, something far away and happy.
The season of grapes, the ripe and fruitful season.
I who lived in a harbor from which I loved you.
The solitude crossed with dream and with silence.
Penned up between the sea and sadness,
Soundless, delirious, between two motionless gondoliers.
Between the lips and the voice something goes dying.
Something with the wings of a bird, something of anguish
The way nets cannot hold water.
My toy doll, only a few drops are left trembling.
Even so, something sings in these fugitive words.
Something sings, something climbs to my ravenous mouth.
Oh to be able to celebrate you with all the words of joy.
Sing, burn, flee, like a belfry at the hands of a madman.
My sad tenderness, what comes over you all at once?
When I have reached the most awesome and the coldest
my heart closes like a nocturnal flower.