Pablo Neruda

(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973 / Parral / Chile)

Enigmas - Poem by Pablo Neruda

You've asked me what the lobster is weaving there with
his golden feet?
I reply, the ocean knows this.
You say, what is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent
bell? What is it waiting for?
I tell you it is waiting for time, like you.
You ask me whom the Macrocystis alga hugs in its arms?
Study, study it, at a certain hour, in a certain sea I know.
You question me about the wicked tusk of the narwhal,
and I reply by describing
how the sea unicorn with the harpoon in it dies.
You enquire about the kingfisher's feathers,
which tremble in the pure springs of the southern tides?
Or you've found in the cards a new question touching on
the crystal architecture
of the sea anemone, and you'll deal that to me now?
You want to understand the electric nature of the ocean
The armored stalactite that breaks as it walks?
The hook of the angler fish, the music stretched out
in the deep places like a thread in the water?

I want to tell you the ocean knows this, that life in its
jewel boxes
is endless as the sand, impossible to count, pure,
and among the blood-colored grapes time has made the
hard and shiny, made the jellyfish full of light
and untied its knot, letting its musical threads fall
from a horn of plenty made of infinite mother-of-pearl.

I am nothing but the empty net which has gone on ahead
of human eyes, dead in those darknesses,
of fingers accustomed to the triangle, longitudes
on the timid globe of an orange.

I walked around as you do, investigating
the endless star,
and in my net, during the night, I woke up naked,
the only thing caught, a fish trapped inside the wind.

Translated by Robert Bly

Comments about Enigmas by Pablo Neruda

  • Gold Star - 68,780 Points Fabrizio Frosini (11/23/2015 5:28:00 AM)


    Me habéis preguntado qué hila el crustáceo entre sus patas de oro
    y os respondo: El mar lo sabe.
    Me decís qué espera la ascidia en su campana transparente? Qué espera?
    Yo os digo, espera como vosotros el tiempo.
    Me preguntáis a quién alcanza el abrazo del alga Macrocustis?
    Indagadlo, indagadlo a cierta hora, en cierto mar que conozco.
    Sin duda me preguntaréis por el marfil maldito del narwhal, para que yo os conteste
    de qué modo el unicornio marino agoniza arponeado.
    Me preguntáis tal vez por las plumas alcionarias que tiemblan
    en los puros orígenes de la marea austral?
    Y sobre la construcción cristalina del pólipo habéis barajado, sin duda,
    una pregunta más, desgranándola ahora?
    Queréis saber la eléctrica materia de las púas del fondo?
    La armada estalactita que camina quebrándose?
    El anzuelo del pez pescador, la música extendida
    en la profundidad como un hilo en el agua?

    Yo os quiero decir que esto lo sabe el mar, que la vida en sus arcas
    es ancha como la arena, innumerable y pura
    y entre las uvas sanguinarias el tiempo ha pulido
    la dureza de un pétalo, la luz de la medusa
    y ha desgranado el ramo de sus hebras corales
    desde una cornucopia de nácar infinito.

    Yo no soy sino la red vacía que adelanta
    ojos humanos, muertos en aquellas tinieblas,
    dedos acostumbrados al triángulo, medidas
    de un tímido hemisferio de naranja.

    Anduve como vosotros escarbando
    la estrella interminable,
    y en mi red, en la noche, me desperté desnudo,
    única presa, pez encerrado en el viento.

    - in: 'Canto general' (1950) (Report) Reply

    7 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Rookie - 184 Points Brian Jani (4/27/2014 2:52:00 AM)

    Awesome I like this poem, check mine out  (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Mel Vincent Basconcillo (4/30/2009 1:54:00 AM)

    Pablo Neruda is truly amazing! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Than Yutthachaibodin (1/20/2009 12:44:00 AM)

    It is the enigmas of my life (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Alex Webb (1/7/2009 6:08:00 PM)

    Fantastic. He is the only reason I would learn Spanish, and that would be to better understand his poems like this. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Adedolapo Olisa (10/1/2008 1:01:00 PM)

    trully titled for best influence (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 73 Points Enoch John (6/18/2008 6:06:00 PM)

    With Enigmas, Neruda weaves a mysterious web of poetic syntax that only begins to underscore his genius. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Marshall Spoto (8/3/2007 4:27:00 PM)

    I recently saw a 1991 movie 'Mindwalk' and wondered if this poem was used by actor John Heard in the movie. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 22 Points Gregory Collins (7/28/2007 9:07:00 AM)

    anyone get a chance see the mive mindwalk and listen to read aloud when the island becomes a continent again (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jw Cy (7/13/2007 3:53:00 AM)

    the mysterious wonder of nature at its core. how we never cease to question in unraveling everything into its bits and end, just as I thought of this poem. lovely. (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 2,942 Points john tiong chunghoo (7/1/2006 9:32:00 AM)

    yes, so true. this world is full of fascination.

    all the creatures
    god tries his best
    to lay himself end to end
    in a bid to groom another god (Report) Reply

Read all 11 comments »

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: fish, ocean, sea, star, music, nature, mother, water, wind, time, light, night, fishing, spring

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

[Hata Bildir]