Ode to Pablo Neruda's Pen


Empty scabbard,
your rapier rings, 
long impaled
with the haunted
and astonished faces
of those you pierced. 
The virescent sound
mingled with crimson and lilac.

The price to silence you was high.

Your relic exhumed, 
a book of questions now, 
to your sheath we shall return you.

Your silent strokes still sing.

About this poem:

Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet whom Gabriel Garcia Marquez considers the greatest poet of the 20th century, is being exhumed forty years after his death. Neruda was purported to die of cancer though suspicion shrouded the poet's legacy for years, it is now suspected that a second "doctor" by the name of Price was with Neruda in his final days and could be responsible for the poet's death. There are many small tributes to Neruda sprinkled in this simple poem: Neruda loved to write in green ink, he was famous for his love poems, and he was highly controversial, (hence the "virescent sound, mingled with crimson and lilac"), he also wrote a book of poems entitled, "The Book of Questions" and the ode format chosen for the poem is an homage to the poet who left indelible marks on the history of letters with his famous odes.

And I believe that poetry is an action, ephemeral or solemn, in which there enter as equal partners solitude and solidarity, emotion and action, the nearness to oneself, the nearness to mankind and to the secret manifestations of nature. And no less strongly I think that all this is sustained - man and his shadow, man and his conduct, man and his poetry - by an ever-wider sense of community, by an effort which will for ever bring together the reality and the dreams in us because it is precisely in this way that poetry unites and mingles them.

Pablo Neruda, "Towards the Splendid City", Nobel Lecture, 1971