Alaric Al Necro Cabiling is author of Insanity By Increments, stories. He is also known for his published articles at CvltNation.com and EchoesAndDust.com promoting the international extreme music scene.
There are few authors of poetry that span greater relevance through years of publishing unparalleled works of beauty than Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. His Residence on Earth, known in the Spanish as Residencia en la Terra, is an under-appreciated work of behemoth quality that must ultimately bear the burden of being the author’s most unheralded work, simply for the sheer brilliance and incommunicable romance that his love sonnets had fittingly given him due credit for. It is not an impasse therefore that Residence on Earth be revisited for its grandeur, its monumental failure in its lack of commercial viability and its great success at being his most profound and relevant work of poetic brilliance.
The translation to the English language of Residencia en la Terra is done by Donald D. Walsh. And the translation, in all if not most volumes included in said translation, is immaculately rendered. Of course, many poetry lovers the world over have more than a mere fondness for Pablo Neruda’s work. Perhaps iconic throughout contemporary poetry and literature, a former winner of the Nobel Prize, Pablo Neruda has been cited as one of the most consistently admirable writers of the poetry form until his death in 1973. His body of work is some of the most potent, powerful means of artistic expression the world has ever seen.
He writes about his travels to Spain here, and bridges lands together with his native country Chile, once colonized by the former country, he speaks of beauty in both lands unconquered by foreign influence.
“Oh my kinsman, oh guitar player dressed in bees, there can’t be so much shadow in your hair: you come flying.”
Exiled to Mexico as a member of the communist party, his written work surpasses any legacy he is remembered for in politics.
The land he characterizes with such gifted language is a metaphor of itself. Neruda’s love for his country makes manifest in Residencia en la Terra’s mountain ranges, its inexorable landscape, the unforgettable smiles that greet the visitor in the quaint little villages populated by colorful locals. The world is his stage, and all who visit Pablo Neruda’s work finds a union with the land he loves so explicitly.
A nationalist at heart, Neruda attempts the ever-intimidating assignation of writing a vast collection of works thematic in his almost indescribable passion for his native people. Pablo’s inspiration is the untimely dedication he has to living life with an utmost appreciation for beauty paradoxical for its simplicity and virtue.
Yet, one cannot discount the great obscurity that cloaks many of the poems contained in Residencia en la Terra, in comparison to his more famous works. True, the language and style and immediacy his more famous works are known for bring them an unparalleled accessibility towards fans of poetry that love Neruda’s simpler means of expression, but Residence on Earth, finds Pablo Neruda at the height of his writing prowess – the profound symbolism and language distilled in a simple but complex euphemism that describes his heritage.
“Inside my guitar interior there is an old air, dry and resonant, left behind, motionless, like a faithful nutrition, like smoke; an element at rest, a living oil: an essential bird watches over my head: a constant angel lives in my sword.”
Perhaps not as anthemic but is nonetheless deliberately methodical in its characterization of nationalist sovereignty, Residence on Earth lives on in great appreciation by academes and scholars the world over, who can appreciate the dexterity Neruda always maintained with his compositions. The great wind that moves the wind vail, is the same force that drives a man to fulfill his fate, if only for his free will, and defiance towards capture or bondage. Neruda expresses himself with lyrical structure and rhythm, always playful, sometimes pragmatic, but always indefatigable in the crystallization of rich, detailed language.
Chile is not without its great contributions to world poetry and literature, and foremost among them, must be the great Pablo Neruda. Residence on Earth may not be his most sentimental work, but is easily, some of his most relevant. From a trained eye fitting for that of a surgeon, precise in the mapping of a body and its parts, Pablo Neruda skillfully dissects a landscape filled with beauty that is smeared by a love for his craft, a love for poetry, for honesty greater than any man has attempted to rekindle in the expression of such passion for his native land.