Guest poem sent in by Rajeev
(Poem #164) Bird
It was passed from one bird to another, the whole gift of the day. The day went from flute to flute, went dressed in vegetation, in flights which opened a tunnel through the wind would pass to where birds were breaking open the dense blue air - and there, night came in. When I returned from so many journeys, I stayed suspended and green between sun and geography - I saw how wings worked, how perfumes are transmitted by feathery telegraph, and from above I saw the path, the springs and the roof tiles, the fishermen at their trades, the trousers of the foam; I saw it all from my green sky. I had no more alphabet than the swallows in their courses, the tiny, shining water of the small bird on fire which dances out of the pollen.
My first exposure to Neruda was around 12 years ago. Among the poems in the course for CBSE (Class IX or X) was a strange one called "Ode to the Clothes". The title was decidedly off-track, but the poem itself was more so. It broke whatever norms or rules I perceived poetry as having, and its theme - of the thoughts of a man as he wears a shirt - was unconventional, to say the least. Yet the poem itself struck me as passionate, indeed somewhat erotic! The poet was Pablo Neruda. Since then, I've had an on-and-off experience with the works of Neruda. There are works such as "Bird" that move me immensely, especially the last 5 lines of the first stanza and the last 2 lines of the poem (to my mind, among the most visually striking and memorable lines - some of us would say "Evocative" - that I've read). But at times, I've struggled to understand some of his other works, because it was near impossible to pin down the emotion underlying. In any case, "Bird" qualifies as one of my all-time favourites. I hope you like it too. Regards Rajeev Biography Neruda was born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto on July 12, 1904, in Parral, Chile. His mother died soon after. He completed his secondary schooling in 1920, the year he began using the name Pablo Neruda. In 1921 he went to Santiago to continue his education but soon became so devoted to writing poetry that his schooling was abandoned. Neruda's first book, `Crepusculario', was published in Spanish in 1923. The next year he published `Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair'. Early in life he took an interest in politics. He was for a time an anarchist but later became a Communist. His government service began in 1927 and ended only shortly before his death on Sept. 23, 1973, in Santiago. From 1927 to 1933 Neruda represented Chile in South Asia--in Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Java (now part of Indonesia), and Singapore. In 1933-34 he was Chilean consul in Buenos Aires, and while there he met the great Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. From Argentina he went to Spain, where he served through the early part of the Spanish Civil War. His `Spain in the Heart' was published in 1937 during the war. Over the next decades Neruda traveled widely and continued writing poetry. Among his other books were `Residence on Earth' (1933), written while he was in South Asia; `General Song' (1950), one of the greatest epic poems written in the Americas; and `One Hundred Love Sonnets' (1959). During the Marxist regime of Salvador Allende, Neruda was Chile's ambassador to France (l971-72). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 for, in the words of the awarding committee, "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams". He died in Santiago on Sept. 23, l973. - Compton's Living Encyclopedia "Neruda's body of poetry is so rich and varied that it defies classification or easy summary. It developed along four main directions, however. His love poetry, such as the youthful Twenty Love Poems and the mature Los versos del CapitE1n (1952; The Captain's Verses), is tender, melancholy, sensuous, and passionate. In "material" poetry, such as Residencia en la tierra, loneliness and depression immerse the author in a subterranean world of dark, demonic forces. His epic poetry is best represented by Canto general, which is a Whitmanesque attempt at reinterpreting the past and present of Latin America and the struggle of its oppressed and downtrodden masses toward freedom. And finally there is Neruda's poetry of common, everyday objects, animals, and plants, as in Odas elementales. These four trends correspond to four aspects of Neruda's personality: his passionate love life; the nightmares and depression he experienced while serving as a consul in Asia; his commitment to a political cause; and his ever-present attention to details of daily life, his love of things made or grown by human hands. Many of his other books, such as Libro de las preguntas (1974; "Book of Questions"), reflect philosophical and whimsical questions about the present and future of humanity. Neruda was one of the most original and prolific poets to write in Spanish in the 20th century, but despite the variety of his output as a whole, each of his books has unity of style and purpose." - Encyclopedia Britannica Check out this outstanding website (the effects are amazing and the site very well planned out) for some more of his works http://members.aol.com/KatharenaE/private/Pweek/Neruda/neruda.html