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Bird -- Pablo Neruda

Guest poem sent in by Rajeev
(Poem #164) Bird
It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air -
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography -
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.
-- Pablo Neruda
My first exposure to Neruda was around 12 years ago. Among the poems in the
course for CBSE (Class IX or X) was a strange one called "Ode to the
Clothes". The title was decidedly off-track, but the poem itself was more
so. It broke whatever norms or rules I perceived poetry as having, and its
theme - of the thoughts of a man as he wears a shirt - was unconventional,
to say the least. Yet the poem itself struck me as passionate, indeed
somewhat erotic! The poet was Pablo Neruda. Since then, I've had an
on-and-off experience with the works of Neruda. There are works such as
"Bird" that move me immensely, especially the last 5 lines of the first
stanza and the last 2 lines of the poem (to my mind, among the most visually
striking and memorable lines - some of us would say "Evocative" - that I've
read). But at times, I've struggled to understand some of his other works,
because it was near impossible to pin down the emotion underlying. In any
case, "Bird" qualifies as one of my all-time favourites. I hope you like it



Neruda was born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto on July 12, 1904, in Parral,
Chile. His mother died soon after. He completed his secondary schooling in
1920, the year he began using the name Pablo Neruda. In 1921 he went to
Santiago to continue his education but soon became so devoted to writing
poetry that his schooling was abandoned. Neruda's first book,
`Crepusculario', was published in Spanish in 1923. The next year he
published `Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair'.

Early in life he took an interest in politics. He was for a time an
anarchist but later became a Communist. His government service began in 1927
and ended only shortly before his death on Sept. 23, 1973, in Santiago. From
1927 to 1933 Neruda represented Chile in South Asia--in Burma (now Myanmar),
Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Java (now part of Indonesia), and Singapore. In
1933-34 he was Chilean consul in Buenos Aires, and while there he met the
great Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. From Argentina he went to Spain,
where he served through the early part of the Spanish Civil War. His `Spain
in the Heart' was published in 1937 during the war.

Over the next decades Neruda traveled widely and continued writing poetry.
Among his other books were `Residence on Earth' (1933), written while he was
in South Asia; `General Song' (1950), one of the greatest epic poems written
in the Americas; and `One Hundred Love Sonnets' (1959). During the Marxist
regime of Salvador Allende, Neruda was Chile's ambassador to France

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 for, in the words of
the awarding committee, "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental
force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams".

He died in Santiago on Sept. 23, l973.

                                 - Compton's Living Encyclopedia

"Neruda's body of poetry is so rich and varied that it defies classification
or easy summary. It developed along four main directions, however. His love
poetry, such as the youthful Twenty Love Poems and the mature Los versos del
CapitE1n (1952; The Captain's Verses), is tender, melancholy, sensuous, and
passionate. In "material" poetry, such as Residencia en la tierra,
loneliness and depression immerse the author in a subterranean world of
dark, demonic forces. His epic poetry is best represented by Canto general,
which is a Whitmanesque attempt at reinterpreting the past and present of
Latin America and the struggle of its oppressed and downtrodden masses
toward freedom. And finally there is Neruda's poetry of common, everyday
objects, animals, and plants, as in Odas elementales.

These four trends correspond to four aspects of Neruda's personality: his
passionate love life; the nightmares and depression he experienced while
serving as a consul in Asia; his commitment to a political cause; and his
ever-present attention to details of daily life, his love of things made or
grown by human hands. Many of his other books, such as Libro de las
preguntas (1974; "Book of Questions"), reflect philosophical and whimsical
questions about the present and future of humanity. Neruda was one of the
most original and prolific poets to write in Spanish in the 20th century,
but despite the variety of his output as a whole, each of his books has
unity of style and purpose."

 - Encyclopedia Britannica

Check out this outstanding website (the effects are amazing and the site
very well planned out) for some more of his works

63 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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