Monday, October 18, 2010

Pablo Neruda's Houses

Saturday afternoon driving along in the car listening to Radio National the weekly program 'Poetica' came on! After a trip to the Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha, a wonderful long conversation with one of the librarians, and time enjoying the sunshine and fresh greens of this location following a week of wind and rain a mellow mood had descended already when I tuned into 'Poetica' and was soon was transported away by the day's story on Pablo Neruda... long a favorite of mine.

One of a great many publications

It was such a pleasure to hear a favourite being read on this program and learn more on where Neruda had lived and what had some inspired some key works and developments in his life. I have included this poem below. In my previous home going back a few years now I had written the first stanza of the work  'Poesia' or 'Poetry' above the picture rail when painting deep blue/greys in this section of wall. That had curiously brought a quiet presence to the room that inspirited it somehow!

you cant read the text but you can maybe just see it above the picture rail!


And it was at that age ... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind. 

Pablo Neruda 

More work by Neruda can be read through this site -

Pablo Neruda's Home
Isla the sea

The names
The rafters in Pablo Neruda's studio.
(found here)

About Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda during a Library of Congress
recoding session, June 20, 1966

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) held diplomatic posts in Asian and European countries. After joining the Communist Party, Neruda was elected to the Chilean Senate but was forced to live in exile in Mexico for several years. Eventually he established a permanent home on Isla Negra. In 1970 he was appointed as Chile's ambassador to France; in 1971 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Below is the link with text to the Saturday Program. You should be able to listen to the show for the next month... after that Im not sure. You can also click to see the images of one of the houses.

Neruda's Houses

Producer Greg Lewis with a portrait of Pablo Neruda at Isla Negra.
Pablo Neruda's Houses
View the image gallery
A feature on Neruda's eccentric homes and the poetry he wrote there.
Neruda's Houses is written and narrated by Brisbane author Greg Lewis. Greg looks at the eccentric houses the famous poet Pablo Neruda built in his native Chile: La Chascona, La Sebastiana and Isla Negra, as well as his childhood homes, and the houses he lived in while working as a diplomat in Burma in the 1920s and Spain during the civil war. We'll also hear Neruda's poems that were written in these residences or relate closely to them.
Greg Lewis turned his hand to literary commentary and poetry after many years as a boxing writer. He's written for The Hardy Society Journal, Australian Reader and Speedpoets. Greg married his wife in Chile last year and took time out from his honeymoon to visit Neruda's houses, and gather the material for this program.
Neruda's poems are read in Spanish and English by Simon Palomares.
Sound engineers: Andrea Hensing and Tom Henry
Production: Mike Ladd
List of poems:
Trans Gary Soto
From The Poetry of Pablo Neruda Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Trans Alastair Reid
From Isla Negra Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Every Day, Matilde
Trans William O'Daly
From The Sea and the Bells, Copper Canyon Press
Port, this port of Valparaiso
Trans William O'Daly
From The Sea and the Bells, Copper Canyon Press
Rangoon 1927
Trans Alastair Reid
From Isla Negra, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
I'm Explaining a Few Things
Trans Nathaniel Tarn
From Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry,
University of Texas Press
The Heights of Macchu Picchu, Part 6
Trans Nathaniel Tarn
From Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry,
University of Texas Press

a book written for children about the poet

another poem for you...  an excerpt:

Ode to the Dictionary 






what a marvel

to pronounce these plosive


and further on,


unfilled, awaiting ambrosia or oil

and others,

capsicum, caption, capture,

comparison, capricorn,


as slippery as smooth grapes,

words exploding in the light

like dormant seeds waiting

in the vaults of vocabulary,

alive again, and giving life:

once again the heart distills them.

Dictionary, you are not a

tomb, sepulcher, grave

tumulus, mausoleum,

but guard and keeper,

hidden fire,

groves of rubies,

living eternity

of essence,

depository of language.

and a last more here:

A manifesto for writing down the bones of the world.
“It is good, at certain hours of the day and night, to look closely at the world of objects at rest. Wheels that have crossed long, dusty distances with their mineral and vegetable burdens, sacks from the coal bins, barrels, and baskets, handles and hafts for the carpenter’s tool chest. From them flow the contacts of man with the earth, like a text for all troubled lyricists. The used surfaces of things, the wear that the hands give to things, the air, tragic at times, pathetic at others, of such things—all lend a curious attactiveness to the reality of the world that should not be underprized.


Janis said...

I LOVE Neruda, I have two books of his poems. He's so amazing...and you know what? I LOVE that you wrote a poem, and especially his, on your picture rail! That is great - you are an artist through and through - what a lovely thing to do. So uplifting, beautiful, straight from the heart.

...and thank you for that most thoughtful comment you left me. You gave me tears...xoxo.

Robyn said...

this is another lovely informative beautiful post Sophie... thank you

Anonymous said...

Its lovely to have you back Janis...what a time of waiting its been... now all is shifting for you.
I can see you bringing poetry to your new whatever form you choose to do that... Im not surprised you connected with the impulse to add those words to the walls....that need I had at that time to completely inhabit the space....put my finger print on everything!
I was utterly chuffed to see in Neruda's studio he'd added words to the rafters when I found that image today.
ciao bella!
S xox

Anonymous said...

Hi Robyn,
I've so enjoyed the dialogue over at your blog of late!
Love how people really speak plainly about the things that matter in response to where you take them!!! .
Thats a gift...
Glad you enjoyed being connected to this poet...
talk soon,

ArtPropelled said...

Neruda's poetry has been popping up in my life lately. I love the way you have written his words above the picture rail!

Sophie Munns said...

much appreciated Robyn!
Interesting how something keeps presenting like that so that we can become more aquainted.

M. said...

I love Neruda too! And the film Il Postino (based on Neruda's life) as well. I don't know if you're familiar with it, but the film soundtrack starts out with about 20 poems, read by all kinds of actors & writers. I always found it wonderful to work to...

Anonymous said...

Hi M,
Yes.. that film is wonderful... its a very long time since I was it... but I do think of it from time to time!
Thanks for reminding me...I will make a point to try and see it again.

mansuetude said...

i just found this earlier, and it is like a "treasure" the rafters with the names of poets.

went and tumblr'd it, I thank you.

Sophie Munns said...

Pleasure to share it....
shall look on tumblr,