Neruda was born in Chile in 1904 and died in 1973.  He became politicized during the Spanish Civil War and continued to be active in the revolutionary movement in Chile and elsewhere in Latin America.  He was close to progressive leaders in Brazil and Chile and read his poetry before audiences in the tens of thousands.  He was hospitalized with cancer shortly after the military coup that overthrew the socialist Allende regime in Chile and died shortly thereafter.

Cathy Stewart introduced me to Neruda and through him I came to appreciate Cathy’s love of physical objects – paper, tea cups, toys, pens, arts and crafts, photographs.  This poem expresses Neruda’s love for the workers, ordinary and extraordinary, who produce them.

–Harry Kresky


Pablo Neruda


Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu

Arise to birth with me, my brother.

Give me your hand out of the depths

sown by your sorrows.

You will not return from these stone fastnesses.

You will not emerge from subterranean time.

Your rasping voice will not come back,

nor your pierced eyes rise from their sockets.

Look at me from the depths of the earth,

tiller of fields, weaver, reticent shepherd,

groom of totemic guanacos,

mason high on your treacherous scaffolding,

iceman of Andean tears,

jeweler with crushed fingers,

farmer anxious among his seedlings,

potter wasted among his clays–

bring to the cup of this new life

your ancient buried sorrows.

Show me your blood and your furrow;

say to me: here I was scourged

because a gem was dull or because the earth

failed to give up in time its tithe of corn or stone.

Point out to me the rock on which you stumbled,

the wood they used to crucify your body.

Strike the old flints

to kindle ancient lamps, light up the whips

glued to your wounds throughout the centuries

and light the axes gleaming with your blood.

I come to speak for your dead mouths.

Throughout the earth

let dead lips congregate,

out of the depths spin this long night to me

as if I rode at anchor here with you.

And tell me everything, tell chain by chain,

and link by link, and step by step;

sharpen the knives you kept hidden away,

thrust them into my breast, into my hands,

like a torrent of sunbursts,

an Amazon of buried jaguars,

and leave me cry: hours, days and years,

blind ages, stellar centuries.

And give me silence, give me water, hope.

Give me the struggle, the iron, the volcanoes.

Let bodies cling like magnets to my body.

Come quickly to my veins and to my mouth.

Speak through my speech, and through my blood.

Pablo Neruda

Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

2 thoughts on “Neruda

  1. It is especially beautiful in its original form

    *Alturas de Macchu Picchu ,XII*

    * Sube a nacer conmigo, hermano… *

    *Dame la mano desde la profunda zona de tu dolor diseminado. No volverás del fondo de las rocas. No volverás del tiempo subterráneo. No volverá tu voz endurecida. No volverán tus ojos taladrados.*

    *Mírame desde el fondo de la tierra, labrador, tejedor, pastor callado: domador de guanacos tutelares: albañil del andamio desafiado: aguador de las lágrimas andinas: joyero de los dedos machacados: agricultor temblando en la semilla: alfarero en tu greda derramado: traed a la copa de esta nueva vida vuestros viejos dolores enterrados.*

    *Mostradme vuestra sangre y vuestro surco, decidme: aquí fui castigado, porque la joya no brilló o la tierra no entregó a tiempo la piedra o el grano: señaladme la piedra en que caísteis y la madera en que os crucificaron, encendedme los viejos pedernales, las viejas lámparas, los látigos pegados a través de los siglos en las llagas y las hachas de brillo ensangrentado.*

    *Yo vengo a hablar por vuestra boca muerta. A través de la tierra juntad todos los silenciosos labios derramados y desde el fondo habladme toda esta larga noche como si yo estuviera con vosotros anclado, contadme todo, cadena a cadena, eslabón a eslabón, y paso a paso, afilad los cuchillos que guardasteis, ponedlos en mi pecho y en mi mano, como un río de rayos amarillos, como un río de tigres enterrados, y dejadme llorar, horas, días, años, edades ciegas, siglos estelares.*

    *Dadme el silencio, el agua, la esperanza. Dadme la lucha, el hierro, los volcanes. Apegadme los cuerpos como imanes. Acudid a mis venas y a mi boca, Hablad por mis palabras y mi sangre.*

  2. Thanks Kathy!
    Gerry Everett from Florida sent me a poem via Facebook to share with everyone today:

    A Poem for P4P:

    The North River leaves without the wind
    When the church’s ring six
    The paddles inscribe a line
    Where once were lives in cycle
    What once called our passing
    Our current strewn path to judgment

    And before on that prayer filled August night
    When was Called up the providential fog
    When Maryland died to save the hour and the age
    Standing forever at that which is now the Gowanus
    Who is to say where the devil resides
    In the fog or in the steam

    Who is to judge the wicked
    The bloody Yucatan
    Round with stones and ages
    Or the cardinal with his cane
    The muffled ores call me
    To sit the last day

    In a rocking chair, with Brandy, and cigars
    To see my answers in the smoke

    GRE 12.09.12

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