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The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

By Kriti Sharma


Pablo Neruda (1904–1973), whose real name is Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, was born on 12 July, 1904, in the town of Parral in Chile. At the early age of thirteen he began to contribute some articles to the daily “La Mañana”, among them, Entusiasmo y Perseverancia — his first publication — and his first poem. In 1920, he became a contributor to the literary journal “Selva Austral” under the pen name of Pablo Neruda, which he adopted in memory of the Czechoslovak poet Jan Neruda (1834–1891).


Emerging, from the collection Extravagaria:


A man says yes without knowing how to decide even what the question is, and is caught up, and then is carried along and never again escapes from his own cocoon; and that’s how we are, forever falling into the deep well of other beings; and one thread wraps itself around our necks, another entwines a foot, and then it is impossible, impossible to move except in the well – nobody can rescue us from other people.


It is difficult to assign any one specific meaning to the words like “well” and “ rescue” here. Some may prefer to be a part of the well and never be rescued, while some would not stand to lose any chance to meet their real, true self. Pablo Neruda’s poems always make one wonder about the truth, the world that we live in, and the world that his poems expose us to.


And all at once, that’s it; we no longer know what it’s all about, but we are deep inside it, and now we will never see with the same eyes as once we did when we were children playing. Now these eyes are closed to us, Now our hands emerge from different arms.


Neruda, very clearly refers to the metamorphosis that each one of us has to go through while we grow. “Hands emerge from different arms” could be said to refer to the actions that we commit, emerging from different thoughts .


Let us hold on to the shadows to see if, from our own obscurity, we emerge and grope along the walls, lie in wait for the light, to capture it, till, once and for all time, it becomes our own, the sun of every day.


These lines from Emerging capture every traveller’s quest, who leave on the journey to self-discovery. These seem to convey that once we are away from all the hustle and noise ( expressed here as our dreams) we will be able to forge our own way into our own life, away from the “well” and under our own “sun” or our own ability to see things.


In one of his other magnificent pieces “ Love”, Neruda again becomes successful in making its readers plunge into a sea of unexplained emotions, who come out of the sea with their own musings and interpretations.


What’s wrong with you, with us, what’s happening to us? Ah our love is a harsh cord that binds us wounding us and if we want to leave our wound, to separate, it makes a new knot for us and condemns us to drain our blood and burn together.


In the above given lines, Neruda highlights the helplessness which befalls the people who love and are loved. It is indeed a rare sight where one sees something as pure as love being referred to as something which condemns people who love to burn together. Through the contrasting images used by Neruda, he is trying to find out the reason to be with a person whom he finds so “ordinary” and without air, without sound, without substance.


Why, why, why, my love, why?


To conclude his confusing string of thoughts, Pablo Neruda asks “why”, seemingly asking why this has happened between them, that it shouldn’t have happened this way, without cause, as some form of mysterious natural order, or, since he speaks of past lovers, to ask why this always seems to be the outcome of his relationships.

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About the author:

Meet Kriti Sharma from the batch of 2017–19, who often passes off as a very quiet person, but can make hell come down on you if you say “Leviosaa” instead of Leviosa. She is not a Nazi, and by no means is she a purist, she just feels that certain things were meant to be said and written in a certain way. An avid reader since she first felt Alice in Wonderland in her hands, she can read anything and everything as long as it keeps her in her parallel universe, where “ there is time to stand and stare…”

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