Captain's Verses (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – 1 Feb 1972
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I know that one day we will go back to Isla Negra, that Pablo's people will enter through that door and will find in every stone, in every leaf, in every seagull's cry, the always-living poetry of that man who loved them so much. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Author
A classic poetry book in a masterful bilingual edition
Long before he received the 1971 Nobel Prize, Pablo Neruda has attained worldwide recognition as one of the most important figures in contemporary poetry. A fiery poet of leftist politics, he was also a fiery poet of love. This translation of "The Captain's Verses" is a major achievement in the genre of love poetry. Neruda originally published the book anonymously, some years before he married Matilde Urrutia, to whom he had address these poems of passionate devotion as well as love's quarrel's. The first "acknowledged" edition appeared in 1963. In this collection, the Chilean poet's brilliant images are expressed with remarkable directness and simplicity. Donald D. Walsh's translations are presented with the original Spanish verse en face.
Top customer reviews
I do not connect to all of the poems as they are a tad dark for me but I really am moved to tears by many
I recommend this book to anyone who has an ear for beautifully crafted poetry especially as it has both languages side by side
Perhaps a day will come
in which a man
and a woman,
just like us,
will touch this love and it will still have the strength
to burn the hands of those that touch it.
Certainly, 60 years later, it is still aflame and might be forever, as long as there are human beings and desire and the earth itself.
Sections entitled `Love', `Desire', and `The Furies' offer a sense of the journey we will take through these poems which open up the darkness of loving as well as its great light. `The Queen' is one of his most beautiful dedications: "when you appear/all the rivers roar/in my body, bells/shake the heavens,/and the world is filled with a hymn"; `The Wrong Step' one of his most arrogant: "If you take away your life from me/you will die/even while you live." In the fourth section, `Human Lives', we find the influence of Neruda's political struggles; he is the soul of conviction in the section's titular poem: "I am stronger/because I bear within me/not my tiny life/but all human lives". In the final 3 longer poems, we are returned to the passion and glory of love, where even on his travels he carries love "inside a drop of blood that flows in my veins".
Neruda's poetic landscape, his mythology created through recurring symbols, is primeval and elemental. His love for the female form echoes with the geography of the world; she is fields and oceans; she is born of wheat, stones, metals and clay. In `The Insect' he is the eponymous creature exploring her lands, her "scorched centimetres"; whilst `My Infinity' sees him spending his life "[i]n this territory/between your feet and your brow,/strolling, strolling, strolling". His love is inseparable from the rock and wind: they define it. He borrows from heaven and earth for metaphor; his rhythms are those of the surf and the blood.
I can never escape the word "fire" when I think or write of Neruda's poetry. I imagine him presiding over his flaming crucible, snatching from the universe stars, rivers, perfumes, and a million other ingredients. It's as if he wants to re-create the meaning of love from scratch, and in this process, from the potent alchemy of his language, comes this volume of purest gold.
[NB. The book also contains an introduction by translator Brian Cole; Neruda's 1963 explicación of the book's anonymity when first published in 1952, and his curious original preface. The poems are rendered side by side in Spanish and English.]
I find this to be the most accessible of Neruda's books that I have read, perhaps because its subject was a central part of his life. As explained in the introduction of the book, these poems are autobiographical, and written about his wife, Matilde Urrutia. First published anonymously in 1952, they were released in 1963 under his own name, but only after much thought, because of their "intimate birth".
The translations by Donald D. Walsh are superb. He has captured the fluid rhythm, the emotion, and the fire.
He was fortunate to have had this remarkable relationship, as well as the ability to express his feelings with such uncommon depth, but for those men who lack Neruda's poetic genius, and who would like to melt the heart of the woman they love, this might be the perfect gift to go along with that bunch of flowers.
Nor is it possible to read one language version and not the other. This book gives a beautiful window into the depth of the Spanish speaking heart. Neruda moves the readers heart in ways that many cannot, with a gentility of heart and a fury of passion.
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An unbeatable book of poetry from a complete romantic and passionate soul
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