A dog has died, an Ode to Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda Appreciation post!

I usually don’t sway from my cold style of writing poems and haikus but this one deserves every bit of freedom as it requires quite some describing for the work of art it is.

It is a poem that has stayed close to me ever since I read it a few years back and has stayed and lingered on inside for quite a bit. Blooming out of my mind on instances, almost as if Pablo Neruda had thought of my life (and a hundred others like me) while writing this piece. The poem in a lot of ways, re-emphasizes what true poetry is really made of. True emotions. Deep and personal ; and yet so common. This is to re-emphasize this piece of art, for a million reasons other than the one stated. A true depiction of human emotion at the death of his most loyal friend.

So, why does this poem by Neruda stand out from the rest. As is, exploitation of deeper emotions like happiness , sadness and despair (others too) are the core centres around which any poem is written. These deeper emotions are the reason why we can connect to a poem, or really really like a poem. Why this one stands out for me, is the cold business like way in which Neruda expresses the emotion of sorrow, which to me has been over-exploited more than any other human emotion in poetry and all other art forms. Almost to a cringeful extent, if I might add. The fact that Neruda can sell this emotion without excess force or any force reveals how naturally a piece of art like this came to become such a great one. The fact that he revealed in this cold-business like manner, an emotion that is so easily sold in poetry is why this poem stands out. It is needless to say, that such a poem can only come from the true experiences of a person. And in his true experiences, Neruda has extracted pure feelings and nothing much ((no attempts to make the reader cry),Although it invariably does do just the same). It was almost as if Neruda didn’t care if this poem was read by any one at all! Going by the first line of the poem, “My dog has died” it looks like Neruda felt this was just an expression of his feelings and nothing much. Such levels of “ignorance” might be very difficult to attain for such a famed writer as himself. The fact that he could write it as an extension of his emotions and nothing more, is testament to his words , his emotions and his experience.

Despite this coldness, the poem is able to get to the deepest depths of your emotion bag and invite a world of exploration within through blank, normal, everyday words that can be understood by everyone. Which brings out another reason why, THIS IS A PIECE OF TIMELESS ART… That it is simple, digestible to every person who knows the language. A dog has died and he buried him in his garden.(next to a rusted old machine).

I did not want to reveal lines, phrases, favorite parts of the poem (or even its name) as it must be read, experienced and enjoyed by everyone without the bias of my words. So finally, sorry I couldn’t reveal to you the poem’s name before.. I wanted this to be all about myself (no I didn’t).

A DOG HAS DIED

by Pablo Neruda.

This is in loving memory of my pet, Geo who passed away a few months back. It is safe to say, that Neruda’s words prepared me for such a parting more than any piece of advice could ever do. But it was uncanny how this poem described in plain terms my relationship with Geo ; And Neruda’s expression at his pet’s death is the same way in which I would have liked to pay homage to the rich relationship that Geo and I shared. And so I did, in plain terms reveal to myself that “my dog has died, and he is buried next to a rusted old machine”

Which is why this poem is more than a poem to me.. to him.

I must insist that everyone read this piece of art.

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I’ll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he’d keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea’s movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean’s spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don’t now and never did lie to each other.

So now he’s gone and I buried him,
and that’s all there is to it.

 

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