Sea & the Bells

Pablo Neruda, Author, William O'Daly, Translator
Pablo Neruda, Author, William O'Daly, Translator Copper Canyon Press $15 (0p) ISBN 978-1-55659-018-4
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
In this bilingual collection, the late Nobel laureate establishes immediate intimacy with poems that are at once deeply personal, expansive and universal. Neruda does not embellish but keeps the purity of his emotions intact, lending the verses majestic and understated beauty. The spareness of the language allows greater access to the feelingNeruda hides nothing. Love, death, solitude and phenomena of nature are addressed candidly and with appropriate combinations of sadness and celebration. Neruda's respect for his identity as a Chilean poet surfaces frequently; lines between politics and war and personal relationships often blur. Using the bell as a symbol of the contradiction of life (``pure sound with emptiness at its center''), Neruda assures with grace and wisdom that paradox is unavoidable and a necessary part of growth and fulfillment: ``this is my loneliness: / . . . that I am a part / of winter, /of the same flat expanse that repeats /from bell to bell, in wave after wave, /and from a silence like a woman's hair, / a silence of seaweed, a sunken song.'' (October)
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