Subscribe: by Email | in Reader

I'm Explaining a Few Things -- Pablo Neruda

Guest poem submitted by Amulya Gopalakrishnan:
(Poem #816) I'm Explaining a Few Things
 You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs?
 and the poppy-petalled metaphysics?
 and the rain repeatedly spattering
 its words and drilling them full
 of apertures and birds?
 I'll tell you all the news.

 I lived in a suburb,
 a suburb of Madrid, with bells,
 and clocks, and trees.

 From there you could look out
 over Castille's dry face:
 a leather ocean.
 My house was called
 the house of flowers, because in every cranny
 geraniums burst: it was
 a good-looking house
 with its dogs and children.
 Remember, Raul?
 Eh, Rafel?         Federico, do you remember
 from under the ground
 my balconies on which
 the light of June drowned flowers in your mouth?
 Brother, my brother!
 Everything
 loud with big voices, the salt of merchandises,
 pile-ups of palpitating bread,
 the stalls of my suburb of Arguelles with its statue
 like a drained inkwell in a swirl of hake:
 oil flowed into spoons,
 a deep baying
 of feet and hands swelled in the streets,
 metres, litres, the sharp
 measure of life,
 stacked-up fish,
 the texture of roofs with a cold sun in which
 the weather vane falters,
 the fine, frenzied ivory of potatoes,
 wave on wave of tomatoes rolling down the sea.

 And one morning all that was burning,
 one morning the bonfires
 leapt out of the earth
 devouring human beings --
 and from then on fire,
 gunpowder from then on,
 and from then on blood.
 Bandits with planes and Moors,
 bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
 bandits with black friars spattering blessings
 came through the sky to kill children
 and the blood of children ran through the streets
 without fuss, like children's blood.

 Jackals that the jackals would despise,
 stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
 vipers that the vipers would abominate!

 Face to face with you I have seen the blood
 of Spain tower like a tide
 to drown you in one wave
 of pride and knives!

 Treacherous
 generals:
 see my dead house,
 look at broken Spain :
 from every house burning metal flows
 instead of flowers,
 from every socket of Spain
 Spain emerges
 and from every dead child a rifle with eyes,
 and from every crime bullets are born
 which will one day find
 the bull's eye of your hearts.

 And you'll ask: why doesn't his poetry
 speak of dreams and leaves
 and the great volcanoes of his native land?

 Come and see the blood in the streets.
 Come and see
 The blood in the streets.
 Come and see the blood
 In the streets!
-- Pablo Neruda
Translated by Nathaniel Tarn.

Here's one for all those who decry politically engaged literature as being
aesthetically compromised: Pablo Neruda. For some of the most wonderful
poems that combine Art and heart. He wrote some of the most burning,
gorgeous lines but what powers his poetry is always his politics. Unlike
Nabokov's idea that 'the sole purpose of art is aesthetic bliss', he
fiercely believes that poems can make new worlds. He described the first of
his poetry readings at a trade union meeting as 'the most important fact of
my literary career'.

This particular poem combines generosity, fight, painfulness... and
lyricism, even as it shows up the absurdity of 'poppy-petalled metaphysics'.
There's an aggressive overabundance - the spilling over of the merchandise,
building up to the rush of violent visual images, (black friars spattering
blessings) and then, the unexpected, bludgeoning moments of tenderness (the
house of geraniums, the children's blood).

Neruda's surreal, sure, but it isn't swimmy, soft-focus surrealism. His
images cohere emotionally, with the energy of his anger, all the way up to
the terrible finality of 'come out and see the blood on the streets'. The
poem burns clean.

Amulya.

35 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Nicholas Grundy said...

Hello,

Just thought I should leap to poor old V.V.N.'s defence in Amulya's
comments on "I'm Explaining a Few Things". I think the comment Amulya's
referring to with "the sole purpose of art is aesthetic bliss" is from the
afterword to Lolita, where Nabokov says "For me a work of fiction exists
only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss,
that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of
being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm."
(If this isn't what Amulya was referring to then I apologise!).

When you look at the full quotation, I think Nabokov's rather closer to
Neruda in wanting to "make new worlds" than might at first be evident. In
fact, he also said of his work that "What I would welcome at the close of a
book of mine is a sensation of its world receding in the distance and
stopping somewhere there suspended afar like a picture in a picture."
Granted, the kind of world he's looking to create is different (reflective,
self-conscious, deliberately enigmatic) from Neruda's, but I think the
intent is the same. In fact, given that the basic definition of art he
worked from was "beauty plus pity", he's actually (happily!) very close to
"I'm Explaining a Few Things", which - as Amulya says - combines "violent
visual images" with "bludgeoning moments of tenderness": beauty with pity,
or (not to coin a phrase) Art with heart...

Thanks,
Nick.

ReggieG814 said...

I know not when this poem was written, but it is a timely comparison to the
situation going on in Iraq: "Come and see the blood in the streets!"

Majumder Samsuddha said...

Yeah... I loved this poem. Reminds me of the goings on in Africa though
- civil wars - children with gun. that line "from every dead child a
rifle with eyes" is so evocative I don't not think I shall forget it

Samsuddha Majumder
Assistant Manager, Indirect Tax
KPMG India Private Limited
Block 4B, DLF Corporate Park, DLF City, Phase III
Gurgaon 122 002, Haryana
India
Board; 307 4000
DirectFaxMobile

Gwilym Williams said...

Great poem. I don't know when it was written. But it was published in 1947 in Tercera Residencia.

Anonymous said...

wow

Anonymous said...

The last lines of this poem is very touching. Here the reader invites the reader to witness the carnage in the streets. One as observer, two as with some distant relationship to the street hereto refered and three, as somebody who has now arrived in the streets. I guess this poem reaches far and while. Pablo is trying to show us different approaches by which people can relate to the sad developments in our lives.

Anonymous said...

The last lines of this poem is very touching. Here the poet invites the reader to witness the carnage in the streets. One as observer, two as with someone with distant relationship to the street hereto refered and three, as somebody who has now arrived in the streets. I guess this poem reaches far and wide. Pablo is trying to show us different approaches by which people can relate to the sad developments in our lives.

Anonymous said...

The last lines of this poem is very touching. Here the poet invites the reader to witness the carnage in the streets. One as observer, two as someone with distant relationship to the street hereto refered and three, as somebody who has now arrived in the streets. I guess this poem reaches far and wide. Pablo is trying to show us different approaches by which people can relate to the sad developments in our lives.

Buy Generic Cialis said...

sometimes is a little hard to explain situations, for that reason I like to have some word ready before any event.

Ideas de negocios said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, but I am firmly convinced of this and love to learn more about the subject. If possible, acquire knowledge, would you update your blog with more information? It is very helpful to me

xlpharmacy said...

and then people ask why Pablo Neruda is considerate as the best poet of all time, when here is the evidence. JUst check out the peom, is simply written by a God of poetry.

Anonymous said...

canada goose coats sale online Denmark Canada, UK,
goose trillium parka jackets womens online sale Denmark Canada, UK,
goose freestyle vest sale online sale Denmark Canada, UK,
Goose Chilliwack Bomber online sale Denmark Canada, UK,
Canada Goose Mens Citadel coats online sale Denmark Canada, UK,
Canada Goose Expedition Parka sale online sale Denmark Canada, UK,
canada goose snow mantra parka Jackets online sale Denmark Canada, UK,
Canada Goose Yorkville Parka online sale Denmark Canada, UK,
Canada Goose Womens Chilliwack Parka online sale Denmark Canada, UK,
Canada Goose Womens Expedition Parka online sale Denmark Canada, UK,
Canada Goose Womens Kensington Parka online sale Denmark Canada, UK,
womens Goose Montebello Parka online sale Denmark Canada, UK,
womens Goose Solaris Parka online sale Denmark Canada, UK.

Space Matters Real Estates said...

Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return. Plots for sale in Hyderabad
Plots for sale in Banjara Hills
Plots for sale in Jubilee Hills
Plots for sale in Manikonda
Plots for sale in Madhapur
Plots for sale in kondapur
Plots for sale in Gachibowli
Plots for sale in Kukatpally

Anonymous said...

What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable know-how concerning unexpected feelings.


My weblog :: ideal waist to height ratio

Anonymous said...

Howdy! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after browsing through some of the articles I realized it's new to me.
Nonetheless, I'm definitely happy I stumbled upon it and I'll be bookmarking
it and checking back regularly!

Also visit my web blog - the tao of badass pdf file

Anonymous said...

These are actually fantastic ideas in on the topic of blogging.

You have touched some nice points here. Any way keep up wrinting.


my webpage the tao of badass pdf file

Anonymous said...

What's up Dear, are you really visiting this web page daily, if so then you will absolutely obtain fastidious know-how.

Feel free to surf to my page ... best dating guides

Anonymous said...

Woah! I'm really enjoying the template/theme of this blog. It's simple,
yet effective. A lot of times it's difficult to get that "perfect balance" between superb usability and visual appeal. I must say you've done a amazing job with this.
Also, the blog loads super quick for me on Safari.
Superb Blog!

My site :: tao of badass scam

Daniel Clark said...

The article posted was very informative and useful. You people are doing a great job. Electrical Electronic Products Components | Electronic Research And Development | Keep going.

Obat Herbal said...

Seberat apapun beban masalah yang kamu hadapi saat ini, percayalah bahwa semua itu tidak pernah melebihi batas kemampuan kamu.

Post a Comment