‘The Word’ by Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973) is one of my favourite poets. A giant in 20th century literature, Neruda received critical acclaim for his masterly use of the Spanish language to capture deep feelings about life and love and a thousand ordinary things that give shape to our lives. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971 while he was serving as Chile’s ambassador to France.

‘The Word’ is an emotional tribute to the miracle of expression that has sustained Neruda’s artistic life. This portion of the poem is especially beautiful.

‘The Word’ (Excerpt)

I take the word and go over it
as though it were nothing more than a human shape,
its arrangements awe me and I find my way
through each variation in the spoken word –
I utter and I am and without speaking I approach
the limit of words and the silence.

I drink to the word, raising
a word or a shining cup,
in it I drink
the pure wine of language
or inexhaustible water,
material source of words,
and cup and water and wine
give rise to my song …

Leave a Reply