It’s hard not to love Neruda. I discovered his poetry by accident somewhere along my trawls in the internet, and picked up one of his collections. Love Poems, which has pieces from Los Versos del Capitán, Vientes Poemas de Amor y Una Canción Desesperada, and others (I think, not sure. The book has only nineteen poems.) Naturally, I was enchanted. I’ve read a lot of the classical Romance poets like Keats, Shelley, etc, and my first ventures into poetry were inspired by their usage of imagery taken from nature. Neruda, like them, continued with that well-established use of imagery, equating the women who were the subjects of his poems, with nature. He paints them in ocean waves and mountains and the smell of salt and brine in the coastal air, elevating them to creatures of cosmic force. Of course, like all such things, subjects are described through through the colored goggles of poetry and personal views, and Neruda makes his women out to be things of splendor. In his words, they are both fallible and infallible, powerful and beautiful, and described with his brand of sensuality that derives directly from nature.
Also, translations are good and fine, but they’re so much more fun to read in Spanish. Aloud, preferably.
I tried a new technique in this where the background is watercolor with salt. It gave a nice fragmented, almost coral-ish effect. I kinda like it, might use it again sometime.
Full Poem: La Reina by Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973)
Yo te he nombrado reina.
Hay más alias que tú, más alias.
Hay más puras que tú, más puras.
Hay más bellas que tú, hay más bellas.
Pero tú eres la reina.
Cuando vas por las calles
nadie te reconoce.
Nadie ve tu corona de cristal, nadie mira
la alfombra de oro rojo
que pisas cuando pasas,
la alfombra que no existe.
Y cuando asomas
suenan todos los ríos
en mi cuerpo, sacuden
el cielo las campanas,
y un himno llena el mundo.
Sólo tú y yo,
sólo tú y yo, amor mío,
(English Translation) The Queen by Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973)
I have named you queen.
There are taller ones than you, taller.
There are purer ones than you, purer.
There are lovelier than you, lovelier.
But you are the queen.
When you go through the streets
no one recognizes you.
No one sees your crystal crown, no one looks
at the carpet of red gold
that you tread as you pass,
the nonexistent carpet.
And when you appear
all the rivers sound
in my body, bells
shake the sky,
and a hymn fills the world.
Only you and I,
only you and I, my love,
listen to it.