Died on 23 September 1973 – Pablo Neruda, the pen name of Chilean poet Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. Neruda was a master of many styles, but he is best known for his love poems, perhaps especially those in his 1924 collection “Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair.” He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1924. As will be evident in the brief selections from his work that follow, Neruda expressed his passionate and unabashedly erotic engagement with life through a poetic idiom that is at once evocative, obscure, powerful, enigmatic, and hauntingly beautiful.
“I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way than this:
where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.” Sonnet XVII
“Perhaps not to be is to be without your being,
without your going, that cuts noon light
like a blue flower, without your passing
later through fog and stones,
without the torch you lift in your hand
that others may not see as golden,
that perhaps no one believed blossomed
the glowing origin of the rose,
without, in the end, your being, your coming
suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life,
blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze:
and it follows that I am, because you are:
it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we:
and, because of love, you will, I will,
We will, come to be.” “Perhaps not to be is to be without your being”
“But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.”