The yellow heart

by Pablo Neruda

Paper Book, 2002






Port Townsend, Wash. : Copper Canyon Press, c2002.


In the introduction to this bilingual volume, the translator reminds us: "Neruda spent the last forty years of his life making himself dangerous with his poetry... He came to see poetry as a moral act, with personal and communal responsibilities." But here, Neruda is at his playful and irreverent best. Whether writing a celebration, allegory, lament or self-parody, the poet declares the strong sense of an improvisational spirit. Highlighted as "Essential" byLibrary Journal.

User reviews

LibraryThing member dasam
Yet one more fine translation by William O'Daly of the late work of Pablo Neruda.

This collection of a sort of magical surrealism displays Neruda's social and political commentary partly hidden by personal mythologies and ironic treatments of the "poet" himself and other actors. Despite the humor,
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or perhaps because f it, there is a poignancy to the poems and indeed the collection as a whole.

Neruda knew his cancer was going to kill him soon. And he had watched a his hopes for Chile were destroyed by the cancer of CIA-supported Fascism.

His biting satire mocks those middle class suburbanites who buy and buy and still die, and all those who fall again and again for

an endless track of champions
and in a corner we, forgotten
maybe because of everybody else,
since they seemed so much like us
until they were robbed of their laurels,
their medals, their titles, their names.

This passage has echoes of the Martin Niemöller poem:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Nonetheless, there is a forgiveness--for himself and for all the other flawed and fearful antiheroes of his poems. And he himself, at last "turn(s) toward my truth/because I am lacking a life."

A collection to be read and reread.
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