Monday, September 29, 2008

Pablo Neruda, Poet

Man dissolves into the ocean like a grain of salt.
Pablo Neruda.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been falling into Pablo Neruda's life, as presented by Adam Feinstein ... a great tome of a book, hardcover with 496 pages but I never considered not carrying it whenever I was tram or train traveling.

Today, it was all I could do not to cry great big messy tears as I read through the final weeks and days of Pablo's life on the train as we arrived in Brussels South ...

On Tuesday the 25th, at nine in the morning, once again the sad task began of taking the body out across the water that was flooding the entrance and the ground floor ... When we managed to get the coffin out, a considerable group of workers and students had gathered outside in the street, and I heard the first shouts: 'Comrade Pablo Neruda!' someone screamed and all the others answered: 'Present!'

The cortege left in a defiant column (any massive demonstration was, of course, forbidden [by the military authorities] ... and the column grew along the way. Arriving at the General Assembly along the Avenida de la Paz, the funeral became an impressive popular protest, the first since 11 September ... I confess that I was frozen with fear, because the people began singing the Internationale in a crescendo.

... Soldiers, armed to the teeth, surrounded the square opposite the cemetery and I sincerely believed that, in a matter of seconds, they would let off a round of machine-gun fire.

...And singing at the top of our voices, all of us crying, we entered General Cemetery. Perhaps the presence of so many foreign journalists saved our lives ...

And still the soldiers watched, their machine guns loaded. As Matilde noted later, 'What a police presence for the most peaceful man in the world, for a poet!'

6 comments:

Simon said...

Have you seen the film "Il Postino"?

Di Mackey said...

I have, Simon, years ago and it introduced me to Pablo. Since then he's popped into my life periodically but I think this book will send me off in search of all of his work over time.

I loved the movie, although Italians assure me the postman's dialect Italian is all but impossible to understand, even if you are Italian.

I must watch it again, after having been immersed in Neruda's life.

furiousBall said...

among the things i really thank you for (besides the three nice photographs framed in my home) is you introducing me to pablo neruda.

distracted by shiny objects said...

Often those who seek peace are seen as the most danderous.

odessa said...

thanks for sharing this. i am a big fan of his, and i'll definitely look up this book.

Di Mackey said...

Hey thank you, Van. You did make me smile.

They are, aren't they, Ms Shiny Objects :)

A pleasure, Odessa.