Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Professional COMM 2/12: Pablo Neruda

"Is 4 always 4 for everyone?
Are all 7's equal?

When prisoners think of the light
is it the same that lights up your world?

Have you wondered what color
April is to the ailing?" -----Neruda, Book of Questions
Since this is poetry I know from the beginning that I'm not looking for 'meaning' in the normal sense. When trying to soak up the feeling of a few lines of poetry like these, it's a good idea to think about mystery instead of meaning... let the truth of the poem find you rather than struggling to find it as you would in a narrative or some other type of writing. To me this poem is about perceptions and inequality. It gives me the feeling of being confined, tied up somewhere in a dark room the way so many of Neruda's countrymen have been over the oppressive past. Neruda wants to know what the world feels like to everyone else, but I think he is essentially asking the question: is happiness tied to situation or is it an exclusively inward property? "Are all 7's equal?" seems like a ridiculous question and that is exactly the effect the poet is trying to create... he is questioning our belief in certainty with this line. How sure are we anyway about the things we are sure about? What makes us so sure? Where can we see a seven in the stars? Obviously questions like these are not going to lead us to the kind of understanding where everything in the universe is nice and neatly ordered, but where can they lead us? What is understanding and how does it function? I believe that there are more things in the universe that we may come to understand by creative intuition than by cold calculation.

No comments: