The Poets’ Niche

By Mark Sconce
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

 

pablo-nerudaHistory makes it perfectly clear that totalitarian regimes on the far Left or the far Right abhor intellectuals. And they certainly don’t like poets unless they become apologists for the regime, like fascist Ezra Pound.  Russia of course provides many examples of poet persecution. Pushkin, Akhmatova, Brodsky, Pasternak, et al.  In China, the so-called Misty Poets were exiled after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Then, on the Right, well, let’s just dwell on Chile for a moment and leave aside Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco. Chile’s greatest poet was Pablo Neruda who some called the Walt Whitman of Latin America. He was also a fervent communist.

Paraphrasing a physics law, excess generally causes an equal and opposite reaction. The excess in this case was the military takeover of the government.  Military rule drove many Chileans into the arms of the communists culminating in the first democratically elected socialist, Salvador Allende.  Neruda was a close advisor to the new president. But Neruda died 12 days after Allende was overthrown in a military coup, and General Augusto Pinochet took over.  The poet’s work was banned under the Pinochet regime. When Chilean soldiers searched Neruda’s house, he reportedly told them: “There is only one thing here that poses a danger to you: poetry.”  Indeed.  But here’s a Neruda poem that should unite nearly everyone of any political stripe.  Dog Lovers of the World, Unite!

A Dog Has Died

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I’ll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he’d keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea’s movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean’s spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don’t now and never did lie to each other.

So now he’s gone and I buried him,
and that’s all there is to it.
Translated by Alfred Yankauer

Pin It
Bridge By The Lake  By Ken Masson September 2019 Bridge By The Lake August 2019 Bridge By The Lake July 2019 Bridge
The Poets’ Niche By Mark Sconce December 2013 Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) October 2013 Translations: A Chinese
Child of the MonthBy Nicole Sergent   May 2018 Izel April 2018 Maria Guadalupe A.T. March 2018 Meet The Children January
The Golden Age Of Mexican Cinema By Herbert W. Piekow   In March 2010 I went to Museo de Arte de Zapopan, with my friend Juan Carlos, to see an
The Dark Side Of The Dream By Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez, Arte Publico Press 434 pages $11.95 US Reviewed by ROB MOHR (Initially published in The
Wordwise With Pithy Wit By Tom Clarkson   This morning, my pal F.T. – who shared the Iraq experience with me during my third trek there – forwarded
LAKESIDE LIVING Kay Davis Phone: 376 – 108 – 0278 (or 765 – 3676 to leave messages) Email: kdavis987@gmail.com November
Front Row Center By Michael Warren    The Pajama Game By Richard Adler and Jerry Ross Directed by Peggy Lord Chilton Music directed
Every Word  Important By Herbert W. Piekow   Every word a writer writes has meaning yes, sometimes they never get published or the book
LEGERDEMAIN—Italian Style By Jim Rambologna   Enzio Grattani was the Editor-in-Chief of a local rivista (or magazine) in Ajiermo, Italy. Locals
 Find us on Facebook