Poetry Monster

The Dead Woman by Pablo Neruda, La Muerta

The Dead Woman by Pablo Neruda, La Muerta

The Dead Woman by Pablo Neruda, La Muerta

The Dead Woman

(translated by Curtis Bauer)

If suddenly you do not exist,
if suddenly you are not living,
I shall go on living.

I do not dare,
I do not dare to write it,
if you die.

I shall go on living.

Because where a man has no voice,
there, my voice

Where blacks are beaten,
I can not be dead.
When my brothers go to jail
I shall go with them.

When victory,
not my victory,
but the great victory
even though I am mute I must speak:
I shall see it come even though I am blind.

No, forgive me,
if you are not living,
if you, beloved, my love,
if you
have died,
all the leaves will fall on my breast,
it will rain upon my soul night and day,
the snow will burn my heart,
I shall walk with cold and fire and death and snow,
my feet will want to march toward where you sleep,
I shall go on living,
because you wanted me to be, above all things,
and, love, because you know that I am not just one man
but all men.

The Dead Woman by Pablo Neruda, La Muerta
An analysis of the poem “The Dead Woman” by Pablo Neruda


Meaning of the poem The Dead Woman by Pablo Neruda

This is a fair use borrowing of an analysis published on the Internet. I edited out some typos. It’s not something you may want to use even if you re-work it since your own understanding of the poem may be different than that of the author of the analysis.

For instance, I am not a racist (and if I were I’d tell you I am) and I don’t think that Neruda is racist. One must understand the historical and cultural context of each work to read poems from other cultures written in a different historical era and one must be careful not to affix modern political labels.

I think the analysis is “pretty lame.” It’s opinionated soulless vivisection of an otherwise intensely beautiful poetic work.

In the poem “the dead woman” by Pablo Neruda, the subject, states of his feeling of wanting to go back to where his loved one is lying without life, but he also clearly states that he wants to move forward.

This statement can be used to mean that the author is resistant to change. Besides, he subconsciously knows that he has to keep moving forward (Neruda and Donald, 21). This situation is experienced by everyone at one point in life when they reflect on simpler yesteryears but know that the future is coming.

In the poem, the subject goes back and forth trying to relate his loss to other world occurrences in his time as he desperately tries to prove to himself why he should keep on living. There is a sense of hopelessness in the subject’s tone. He was always referring to negative outcomes like going to jail with his brothers. Apparently, during his time the beating of blacks was a common occurrence. Though this is racism, he should not be judged harshly for it was the norm at that time.

The subject, also, in this poem displays male egotism. He clearly shows it when he refuses to write about his feelings towards the loss of his loved one. In fact, it is an unwritten law that a male should never let out his feelings. The author goes ahead to confirm this by choosing to speak only to a fellow hurting man but not to a wide audience that books tend to represent.

The subject is a loving person and the loved one that he has lost was deeply dear to him. He shows this by his use of strong words denoting immense pain over the loss in the last stanza of the poem. He acknowledges that he will weep and experience a deep sense of loss for losing someone in his life. Despite all this, he will have to move forward.

The subject shows a strong will to move forward. Although it is hard, he knows he has no alternative. He also admits that he will be grieving for several days because the loved one was dear to him and the loss is heavy to bear.

The subject is also a racist since he thinks that as long as punishing of blacks is happening somewhere he cannot die. This statement entails his negative attitude towards Africans and their descendants in several places around the world. This statement can also be used to infer that he is from a country where slave trade was common and a source of livelihood.

The subject is an optimist since he is expecting to have victory. It is known when fighting the outcome is either a win or a loss, but none has a greater possibility of occurrence than the other. The only time this statement is wrong is when there is an enormous disparity in the fighting prowess of one party to another although, this also is a rare occurrence.

The subject show devotion to his brothers for he is ready to go to prison with them to defend what they stood for as brothers. The greatest test of devotion is volunteering to get the same punishment as the person that one gives devotion. Together with this, the subject is philosophical for he knows that a time is coming that even the silent will have to speak, and those who have been turning in a blind eye to happenings will have to speak because this is a price for the victory that the subject is expecting.

La Muerta

La Muerta  – [original Spanish text]

Si de pronto no existes,
si de pronto no vives,
yo seguiré viviendo.
No me atrevo,
no me atrevo a escribirlo,
si te mueres.

Yo seguiré viviendo.

Porque donde no tiene voz un hombre
allí, mi voz.

Donde los negros sean apaleados
yo no puedo estar muerto.
Cuando entren en la cárcel mis hermanos
entraré yo con ellos.

Cuando la victoria,
no mi victoria,
sino la gran victoria
aunque esté mudo debo hablar:
yo la veré llegar aunque esté ciego.

No, perdóname.
Si tú no vives,
tú, querida, amor mío,
si tú
te has muerto,
todas las hojas caerán en mi pecho,
lloverá sobre mi alma noche y día,
la nieve quemará mi corazón,
andaré con frío y fuego y muerte y nieve,
mis pies querrán marchar hacia donde tú duermes,
seguiré vivo,
porque tú me quisiste sobre todas las cosas
y, amor, porque tú sabes que soy no sólo un hombre
sino todos los hombres.


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