A beautiful way to say yes.
April 20, 2012 1:20 AM   Subscribe

The Paris Review's 1970 interview with Pablo Neruda.
In case you are elected president of Chile, will you keep on writing?

For me writing is like breathing. I could not live without breathing and I could not live without writing.

Rita Guibert's January 1970 interview with the poet in his Isla Negra home, and translated from the Spanish by Ronald Christ.
posted by simulacra (11 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
It's chilling in a certain way to hear Neruda talk politics so soon before the coup d'état-- I would have like to see him talk about Allende some.

Thanks for the post!
posted by shakespeherian at 6:31 AM on April 20, 2012

How have you been running your presidential campaign?


[...] I almost always finish by reading poetry. If I didn’t read some poetry, the people would go away disillusioned.

That is amazing.

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, one of your first books, has been and continues to be read by thousands of admirers.


I had said in the prologue to the edition which celebrated the publication of one million copies of that book—soon there will be two million copies—that I really don’t understand what it’s all about—why this book, a book of love-sadness, of love-pain, continues to be read by so many people, by so many young people. Truly, I do not understand it. Perhaps this book represents the youthful posing of many enigmas; perhaps it represents the answers to those enigmas. It is a mournful book, but its attractiveness has not worn off.

Because it's a sublime collection. Thanks for the post.
posted by ersatz at 7:22 AM on April 20, 2012

"I want to do to you what spring does to cherry trees"

How could you not love Neruda's poetry?
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 7:33 AM on April 20, 2012

"I want to do to you what spring does to cherry trees"

“I am aware of the works of Pablo neruda.”
posted by Fizz at 7:55 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I: If you had to save your works from a fire, what would you save?

N: Possibly none of them. What am I going to need them for? I would rather save a girl ... or a good collection of detective stories ... which would entertain me much more than my own works.
posted by blucevalo at 9:48 AM on April 20, 2012

Yes....who cares about Neruda's politics? He's such a great poet that it overshadows his politics.
He really sings to the ordinary mind.
posted by eggtooth at 10:24 AM on April 20, 2012

Both Neruda and his countryman Bolaño (who includes Neruda as a peripheral character in his novel By Night in Chile) conclude that there is no separation between politics and poetry-- that's actually the thesis of By Night in Chile. It's interesting.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:32 AM on April 20, 2012

Well, the man spent a long time hiding from the police because of his politics, and he wrote the equivalent to a Latin American bible while he was hiding. These days it is just normal to be into Latin America and appreciate its culture, but back then mainstream culture in Latin America still revolved about anything that was done in Paris or New York. Even a very innocent book like that has a tremendous political significance.

I understand what you mean (eggtooth), and it is true that his work stands on its own regardless of his political preferences, but shunning any mention of his political inclinations make it sound like he was a delusional madman who incidentally wrote great poetry. He wasn't, he was a man with a very clear mind who helped bring down many "mental barriers" in Latin American consciousness by just being a celebrated poet who spoke freely about all the things he was into.

And as shakespeherian notes above, there really is no point in separating his poetry and his politics, they are both part of his personality. And another aspect of it that is worth mentioning is that joy he put into everything, particularly eating. Mario Vargas Llosa makes a nice description of him in his own Paris Review interview (scroll down).
posted by micayetoca at 10:44 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Unless there's something wrong with you, you can only enjoy Neruda's poetry if you're able to separate his politics from it. This is the guy who penned a number of odes to Stalin and called Lenin the "great genius of this century".
posted by falameufilho at 11:09 AM on April 20, 2012

“I am aware of the works of Pablo neruda.”

You're right, how stupid of me to make such a comment. Should I post a handwritten apology?
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 2:47 PM on April 20, 2012

“I am aware of the works of Pablo Neruda.”

Rocket Surgeon, and possibly others. Listen up, this might apply to you.

So last night I'm browsing Metafilter and see this post. I save it to Read it Later (now named Pocket) but decide to make an off-the-cuff comment in the thread before I go to sleep, in which I said "I am aware of the works of Pablo Neruda."

And this morning I come back to the thread after having read some of the article and find my comment deleted. I'm not sure why but I guess it offended people and got flagged a heap, judging by Rocket Surgeon's defensive reaction to pretty much the exact same comment left by Fizz.

In case anyone isn't aware, my comment, and Fizz's comment, is a Simpsons reference from the episode "Bart Sells His Soul", uttered by Bart himself while discussing the relationship between laughter and the soul with Lisa.

Sorry if anyone got offended or upset by my comment and/or didn't get the reference to a 12 year old Simpsons episode. Thought I'd do this here rather than start a whole MeTa thread.

For the record, excellent post simulacra.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:03 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

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