Printer Friendly

2000.

2000 is Neruda's salute to the new millennium. Published in Spanish in 1974, a year after the poet's death, 2000 looks ahead to a world in which justice will perhaps be achieved at last. "Today is today. This morning has arrived/prepared through much darkness:/still we don't know if this newly/inaugurated world is bright ..." The poet calls on the survivors of past battles and on future generations to continue the struggle to create a society in which each individual--the explorer, the queen, the cosmonaut and the farmer--is respected. In the new world order envisioned by Neruda, the weak as well as the strong will enjoy the fruits of the community's labors and all peoples will be welcome into the family of nations.

But the transformation will not occur overnight. The poet does not foresee that problems of the poor will be solved in the next few decades. "I am the poor bastard of the poor/Third World," calls out one of the voices in the section called "The Men" ("Los hombes"). "I have arrived at this esteemed year 2000, and/what is here for me?/With what is there to scratch away the fleas? What/do these three zeros that display themselves gloriously/over my own zero/over my inexistence, have to do/with me?"

As in other works, Neruda stresses the bond between nature and man by personifying the mineral and vegetable worlds. The "copper dies," the "manganese sobs," the "iron bids farewell to the coal." However, man has violated nature, extracting minerals from the earth and destroying fertile lands with no regard for the future. In spite of man's abuses, the earth has continued to provide: "...each day bread came out to greet us,/unperturbed by the blood and death/we humans wear..." but the future must be different, for we are destroying the land that sustains us, clothes us and provides materials for industry and growth.

Translator Richard Schaaf captures magnificently the rhythm and energy of Neruda's poetry. In a few cases the English seems even more vibrant than the original Spanish, as in "The Inventions" ("Las invenciones"): "mares give birth to vermilion horses/that suddenly rear up and gallop on the wind..." There are also a few mistranslations. In the first poem cited above, "este manana" should be "this tomorrow," not "this morning" since the poet has used the masculine form. The concept is reiterated later on in the poem: "Hoy es tambien manana ..."; "Today is also tomorrow..."

In spite of these occasional slips, the only seriously weak element in this otherwise fine book is Fernando Alegria's gushy introduction, which is full of poetic-sounding but meaningless rhetoric. Neruda was, Alegria says, "struck down by the lightning bolt of tyrannized hatred." People can be tyrannized, but can hatred? Doesn't the critic mean "tyrannical"? He then goes on to say that Neruda was "shipwrecked from his sea shells in Isla Negra," a metaphor that, even if we take "shipwreck" in its figurative sense of "ruin, destroy," just doesn't fit.

Worse yet, Alegria tries to convince us that "Neruda foresaw the political precipice of the 1990's--the collapse of the walls of the cold war, the twilight of the dictators..." Neruda, like many other Latin American intellectuals of his day, was a Communist. His Canto general, perhaps his most comprehensive work, is an epic poem recounting Latin American history from a Marxist viewpoint. From 1970 until 1973 he served as Chilean ambassador to France under Chilean ambassador to France under Chile's Marxist president, Salvador Allende. Did Neruda clearly foresee the crumbling of the Soviet empire, as Alegria implies? 200 reflects essentially the same world view as Neruda's earlier works. This is neither surprising nor shameful. Neruda was a man of his times. There is no need for modern critics to apologize for him or to recast his political vision. Neruda's poetry speaks for itself, expressing through exquisite imagery the poet's view of a warped social order and his hope for a brighter future.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Organization of American States
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Mujica, Barbara
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Words:665
Previous Article:Un hilito de sangre.
Next Article:A wide angle on Mexico.
Topics:


Related Articles
The Year 2000 Information and Readiness Disclosure Act.
Meat & Poultry.
APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER BANK HOLDING COMPANY ACT.
New Books.
APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER BANK HOLDING COMPANY ACT.
APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER BANK HOLDING COMPANY ACT: By Federal Reserve Banks.
APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER BANK HOLDING COMPANY ACT: By Federal Reserve Banks.
APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER BANK HOLDING COMPANY ACT.
APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER BANK HOLDING COMPANY ACT: By Federal Reserve Banks.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters