Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews
The first I heard of Pablo Neruda was when I accompanied my husband to Chile on an assignment. One cold weekend in July we drove upto Isla Negra, the home of the Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda. What I remember of that place is the rocky shore, the cold sea water and Neruda’s awesome house designed in the shape of a ship. The ground level was a museum of all of Neruda’s collections and the figurehead collection stays in my memory. Neruda’s room on the 1st floor had large windows that looked out into the sea and one could almost imagine him sitting there and writing.
Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto was Neruda’s actual name and he took his pen name from the Czeck poet Jan Neruda. Neruda often wrote in green ink that symbolized desire and hope for him. Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 .He died of prostrate cancer in 1973 in Isla Negra.
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair is his best known collection of romantic poems. Here is one of my Neruda favorites –
If you forget me
I want you to know
You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.
If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.
if each day,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.