I like Pablo Neruda, but I sometimes find him as confusing as Pablo Picasso’s well-known painting, Guernica, a jumble of ideas, descriptions, events, and characters I do not understand. Copper Canyon Press, a noted publisher of poetry, has a high – and I am sure – deserved view of this poem. Inside the front cover, they wrote, “Confronted with his own mortality, Neruda wrote these twenty-eight cantos in two days, an inward expedition to find his deepest roots. The poet evokes the Araucanian Indians and the conquistadors who tried to enslave them, while drawing heavily upon Chilean folklore, the places and people of his childhood, and the sights and smells of the marketplace.” The text has Spanish on the left and English on the right.
Here is “Canto II,” “Araucanian, wet rose, I discover / inside myself, in the provinces of water / your roots, the goblets of the exhumed, / the broken larches, the dead Araucanian, / and your name shines in my chapters / like a catch of fish in a yellow creel! / You are also silver motherland and stink / in bitterness in storms in chills. // Today as a day grew wide / like the land and wider still, / when the light opened to illumine the land, / your rain came and brought in your swords / the portrait of bullet-riddled yesterday, / the love of the unbearable earth, / with those roads that carry me / to the South Pole, among burnt trees.” (5).
I think I need a biography of Neruda as well as some additional research before I can fully comprehend this marvelous work of poetry. 5 Starsstars