Neruda’s Poetry At The End Of The World

by William Skink

April–the cruelest month–is also a month to celebrate poetry. I used to try and bring more poetry to the blogosphere, but eventually stopped. To see some of those old posts, here is a link comprised of over a hundred links to peruse.

I’m less optimistic about the ability of art to address the myriad crises brewing, but here is a poem anyway from Pablo Neruda (translated by William O’Daly) from a collection titled World’s End. It’s a poem I originally came across years ago. Every time I read it I can’t help thinking of one of the crises hardly anyone thinks about anymore–the still not contained nuclear disaster at Fukushima.


I am no longer sure of the sea
in this presumptuous day:
perhaps the fish dressed
themselves in nuclear scales,
and within the infinite water
instead of the original cold
grow the fires of death

They commit to colonizing with fear,
the sudden tides of the world,
and no tower can protect us
from so many enemy waves.

They are not content with the earth.

They need to murder the ocean.

With a few drops of hell
the salt of the waves mingle,
and the minerals of fury
are discharged in the abyss,
so that they whip up the tempest
in a cup of poison
and serve mankind the soup
of fire of sea and of death.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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2 Responses to Neruda’s Poetry At The End Of The World

  1. Turner says:

    Apt. I wish I had a better than high school level of Spanish.

  2. Pingback: Billy & Pablo | Reptile Dysfunction

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