Pablo Neruda’s Influence and Why Should We Still Read Neruda?

Even today one can not ignore Pablo Neruda’s influence on his readers and on the society as a whole. Pablo Neruda, actually called Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, was born on 12th July, 1904. He became a Nobel Laureate in 1971 and left us on 23rd September, 1973. This Chilean diplomat and poet is Chile’s one of the most loved personalities. ‘Pablo Neruda’ was his pen name which he later changed into his legal name. The Nobel prize for Literature was awarded to him “for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams.” Strong political manifestos, historical epics, surrealist poems, a prose autobiography and passionate love poems, he has written them all. It is said that understanding Neruda is like trying to catch a condor with a butterfly net. 

Pablo Neruda’s Influence: Love

Pablo Neruda’s influence is strong enough to stir one emotionally, evoking passion and enhancing vibrancy and creativity. The raw sensuality on the outer crust and the soft mystique romance at the inner core, is the essence of his love poems. He harps on reciprocation in love. Imagination of readers is set on fire. ‘Twenty Poems of Love & A Song of Despair’ and ‘One Hundred Love Poems’ are such collections of romantic poems.  

Pablo Neruda’s Influence: Political Ideology

Pablo Neruda’s political ideology was to be the voice of the voiceless. This definitely was unacceptable to most politicians. However, his final philosophy was harmony with man and the earth. He was a romantic revolutionary. To defend the rights of the people, he explicitly used his poetic tools. Even though he suffered from isolation and depression his works were connected to the mass and were bold and stoic. His statements against governments brewed storms. Neruda’s ‘Canto General’, is a set of poems explaining the history of Latin America and shakes one to the core. He was severely moved by the Spanish Civil War and also witnessed the Second World War and Cold War. ‘Residence On Earth’ explains this vividly. ‘Extravagaria’, a collection of poems is a perfect way to grasp Pablo Neruda’s influence on common lives. He had helped rescue 2000 Chilean Refugees. 

Pablo Neruda’s Influence On Me

Neruda’s poems always have something which we can relate to. His explicit art of expression makes it possible. Pablo Neruda’s influence on me is majorly based on the saying, ‘art inspires art’. His poems are so lyrical. I have made some paintings and sketches and also clicked some photos based on a few of his poems. As a tribute to him on his birthday, I am sharing them here. 

Art for Art

~Sonnet XVII,
100 Love Sonnets
 

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,   

or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:   
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,   
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
 
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries   
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,   
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose   
from the earth lives dimly in my body.
 
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,   
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,   
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,   
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.
 
I will tell you a secret that this is a poem which I read almost everyday. Such is Pablo Neruda’s influence.
 

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

 

~(Last paragraph of ‘Poetry’ by Pablo Neruda)

And I, infinitesimal being, drunk with the great starry void, likeness, image of mystery, I felt myself a pure part of the abyss, I wheeled with the stars, my heart broke loose on the wind.

~Sonnet LXXXI,
100 Love Sonnets
 

And now you’re mine. Rest with your dream in my dream.
Love and pain and work should all sleep now.
The night turns on its invisible wheels,
And you are pure beside me as a sleeping amber.

No one else, Love, will sleep in my dreams.
You will go, we will go together over the waters of time.
No one else will travel through the shadows with me,
Only you, ever green, ever sun, ever moon.
Your hands have already opened their delicate fists
And let their soft drifting signs drop away;
Your eyes closed like two gray wings, and I move
After, following the folding water you carry, that carries me away.
The night, the world, the wind spin out their destiny.
Without you, I am your dream, only that, and that is all.
 
 

~Lost in The Forest

Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig
and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips:
maybe it was the voice of the rain crying,
a cracked bell, or a torn heart.

Something from far off it seemed
deep and secret to me, hidden by the earth,
a shout muffled by huge autumns,
by the moist half-open darkness of the leaves.

Wakening from the dreaming forest there, the hazel-sprig
sang under my tongue, its drifting fragrance
climbed up through my conscious mind

as if suddenly the roots I had left behind
cried out to me, the land I had lost with my childhood—-
and I stopped, wounded by the wandering scent.

 

~Last lines of ‘Letter on the Road’

“with your name on my mouth
and a kiss that never
broke away from yours.”

 

~The first few lines from Sonnet XLVI

Of all the stars I admired, drenched
in various rivers and mists,
I chose only the one I love,
Since then I sleep with the night.

 

~First paragraph of ‘Only Death’ by Neruda

There are lone cemeteries,
tombs filled with mute bones,
the heart going through a tunnel,
shadowy, shadowy, shadowy:
we die as if a ship were going down inside us,
like a drowning in the heart,
like falling endlessly from the skin to the soul.

~First paragraph of ‘Only Death’ by Neruda

~”It is Born”, Pablo Neruda

Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning. 

 

~Lines from “The Chosen Ones”

Why should who died before their time be forgotten?

Everyone’s invited to the party.

 

I am a book of snow, a spacious hand, an open meadow, a circle that waits, I belong to the earth and its winter.

~Lines from “Everyday I Play

I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells,
dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.
I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.

 

~Lines from “Tonight I can Write”

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her. Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

 

~Lines from Neruda’s poetry on peace: Keeping Quiet, Prayers for the Earth.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

 

Pablo Neruda is evergreen

Pablo Neruda’s influence on human life is like a love affair. His poetry confuses me often. Are they reflections of his love affair with his third wife? Or are they his love affair with the words itself? Simplest of elements like shoelaces and tomatoes feature in his poetry. I think he had a love affair with the world itself. Pablo Neruda’s influence through his words as well as actions, still remains significant.

Dipannita Bhattacherya
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16 thoughts on “Pablo Neruda’s Influence and Why Should We Still Read Neruda?”

  1. Priyanka Saha

    Excellent montage – the paintings are breathing life into his words and vice versa.. Will keep watching this space

  2. Sk Shaiful Haque

    Thank you for sharing the information & absolutely amazing paintings .
    Very impressive

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