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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

VINE VOICEon 28 January 2012
This volume of Neruda's poetry is a celebration of his love for Matilde Urrutia; the story of which is told in the film Il Postino. It is a book of poetry that is at once personal and transcendent, for their love could be the love that belongs to all humanity for all time. In his final poem, he hints at this when he writes:

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.]
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on 13 June 1997
I picked up this book, never having read Neruda before, and expecting quite good poetry. I had to stop reading, after several poems; Pablo Neruda's love poetry was so intensely powerful that it overwhelmed my senses. He wrote brilliantly and passionately of the feelings of his soul, at once enthralling yet brutally candid. You suffered along him, you loved the woman he loved. The verses he wrote express the ineffable and indescribable. And the earthly images he creates are potent, almost too potent. His poetry fills your senses and enwraps your soul.
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on 6 October 2013
Was introduced to this poet by my dear friend Effy and I am really glad of the introduction

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
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on 17 November 2015
Amazing poetry translated by a poet.
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on 15 January 2016
Fab poetry
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on 19 May 2015
Fascinating poems. So glad I discovered these.
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on 6 February 2014
What a talent this man was!
An unbeatable book of poetry from a complete romantic and passionate soul

I love it!
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on 11 January 2014
Beautiful words, very thought provoking. Wonderful. Even in translation this work still manages to weave its magic. To read again and again.
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on 24 September 2009
Devoted to his lover Matilde Urrutia and published 14 years before these celestial lovers were married, this collection is breathtaking. The Cadence and music of the Spanish version, with its English translation that is direct, intense and moving leaves one in a moved state of poetic ecstasy. It is impossible to read too much, at the sametime the poems can only be digested in small pieces. The paradox of such powerful writing to provoke hunger where most it satisfies!
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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on 16 August 2003
This is a fabulous dual-language collection of some of the most sensual, passionate poems written in modern times. Whether he imagines himself as an insect making a journey "from your hips to your feet", traveling to distant places with his beloved by his side, or as a soldier who must leave but whose love will "go on singing until the end of life", Neruda writes with exquisite simplicity, and great beauty.
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.
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