Neruda’s Infinite


Pablo Neruda proclaims his poetic vision in a brief poem entitled So is my Life. He begins with the affirmation of the foundation of his poetry. “My duty moves along with my song: I am I am not: that is my destiny.” I am puzzled by the curious punctuation out of which the meaning of this verse is born. His duty, that is poetry, is movement. Movement is song. The song seems to be a dialog, perhaps a struggle, between being and not being. The poet’s destiny is that he is blessed or cursed with two different visions of himself. Only to the extent that he is a part of the suffering of all people can he be who he really is. Of those who suffer he says “they are my pains.”  The poet’s destiny is to be drawn into the plurality of pain. For this reason his says “my poetry is song and punishment.” It is the poet’s duty to suffer with the people and to sing for them. His song is what makes the plurality of pain into a journey toward the light, and that journey has as its unique vision the Infinite. The poet’s duty is to sing the Infinite for only in this does he transcend the being and not being that defines his struggle. By means of this transcendence the poet’s song becomes the voice of the people, the very ones who have taught him the Infinite. The poet’s song is a song of deliverance of  his people.

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