Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda Poems

Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda Poems


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556595325
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publication date: 05/08/2018
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 1,196,798
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Pablo Neruda was born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Parral, Chile, in 1904. He served as consul in Burma and help diplomatic posts in various East Asian and European countries. In 1945, a few years after he joined the Communist Party, Neruda was elected to the Chilean Senate. Shortly thereafter, when Chile’s political climate took a sudden turn to the right, Neruda fled to Mexico, and lived as an exile for several years. He later established a permanent home at Isla Negra. In 1970 he was appointed as Chile’s ambassador to France, and in 1971 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Neruda died in 1973.

Date of Birth:

July 12, 1904

Date of Death:

September 23, 1973

Place of Birth:

Parral, Chile

Place of Death:

Santiago, Chile


University of Chile, Santiago

Read an Excerpt

I touch your feet in the shade, your hands in the light,
and on the flight your peregrine eyes guide me
Matilde, with the kisses your mouth taught me
my lips came to know fire.
Oh legs bequeathed the creaminess
of oatmeal, the battle spread,
its heart a meadow,
when I put my ears to your breasts,
my blood * roused your Araucan syllable.

Where did you go What have you done
Ay my love
when not you but only your shadow
came through that door,
the day
wearing itself down, all
that isn’t you,
I went searching you out
in every corner
imagining you might be
locked in the clock, that maybe
you’d slipped into the mirror,
that you folded your ditzy laugh
and left
to spring out
from behind an ashtray—
you weren’t around, not your laugh
or your hair
or your quick footsteps
coming running

of my homeland,
so much
they hem-in
the will, the struggles
of my people.
Above— the silvered
below— the green thunder
of the ocean.
these people
scratch at their bristling
they steer through
sheer waves
and in the afternoon
they find
a guitar,
and go for a walk singing.
My people
never hold back.
I know where they come from
and where
they’ll go some day with that guitar.
That’s why
I’m not unnerved
by the bloody sun hung out
over the whiteness,
the spectral cordillera
shutting down
the roads.
My people
toughened their hands
jagged minerals,
they know
hard times,
and they go on,
they keep on.
a poor people,
we want a taste
of what’s happening
apart from the snow,
we scan the sea
for messages and news,
holding on.
Come winter
the Andes
lays out
its infinite tablecloth,
Mount Aconcagua’s
hoary mane
freezes to its white head,
the grand cordilleras
the peaks
with the same vast sheet,
the rivers
harden up,
all across the planet
snow keeps falling,
a multiplicity of shivers.
come spring,
death’s mountains
are reborn,
the water’s once again
a living substance, a song,
and a forgotten weed
pokes up,
everything is scented
with sweet mint or heady
beneath the mournful flight
of condors
the herons shoot out
from the silence.
the whole cordillera
gives itself back
to the Chileans,
and between the sea and the peaks
fires fan out.
swishes across the mountain
with its suit
of breezes,
yellow flowers
pour gold fragrance
into the earth’s
old scars,
everything moving,
in flight,
coming and going,
the news of the world,
the tendriling forth
of history, footsteps
of conquistadors overcome
by sheer labor,
and taller
than the highest rocks
is man,
at the crest
of the Andes
the invincible
the advance of the people.
And at the snow-covered
his head, his hands
still holding a shovel,
the Chilean looks up
without fear, without sadness.
The snow, the sea, the sand
all of it is his road.
We’ll struggle on.

If they put
a boat
near a Chilean,
he jumps in,
he exiles himself
and is lost.
The rich man
heads to Vesuvius,
and doesn’t notice
the maternal
heights, the high
Andean flame,
he flies to Broadway,
to the Mayo Clinic,
to the Moulin Rouge,
the poor
Chilean, with his only
crosses into Neuquén, the
forsaken territories of Patagonia,
he hikes the moonriver
shorelines of Peru,
he sets his hunger down
in Colombia,
migrates as he can,
changing stars like shirts,
the Chilean
is a crazy woman
with railing eyes,
an amiable heart, sky-blue skin
or he’s the traveling salesman
with his wine, guitars,
water pipes
or he could be the sailor
who gets married
in Veracruz and never comes back
to his island,
to his fragrant oceanic Chiloé.

And where are the horses?
With so much living and dying,
well-schooled people
with their good mornings spoken,
their clipped so-longs spoken,
didn’t have time to say farewell
to their root-bound horses.

I rode a drop of rain
I rode a drop of water
but I was so little back then
I slid off the earth
and my saddle got lost
among horseshoes, low vines
the man is too hard at work now
to glance into the thick forest
he no longer checks the leaves
nor do leaves fall from the sky for him
now the man is hard at work
hard at work digging his grave.

It’s necessary to see how silence hangs
over the quake-rubbled outskirts of Valdivia
to know why the buried community
won’t recognize the communion of roots
because those who fell dead there
died before dying.

And yet, as they say,
the heart is a leaf
and the wind makes it throb.

I rolled beneath hooves, the horses
passed over me like cyclones,
the moment clutched its flags,
and riding the student fervor
it blew into Chile—
sand and blood from niter quarries,
coal from back-breaking mines,
copper with our blood
percolating into the snow
and so the map was changed,
the pastoral nation bristled
into a forest of fists and horses,
and before I turned 20 I received,
amid the blows of police cudgels,
the throbbing
of a vast, subterranean heart
and to safeguard the lives of others
I understood it was my own
and I came by friends
who will defend me to the last
because my poetry,
barely even shucked,
received the honor of their agonies.

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