Pablo Neruda

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

Magellanic Penguin


Neither clown nor child nor black
nor white but verticle
and a questioning innocence
dressed in night and snow:
The mother smiles at the sailor,
the fisherman at the astronaunt,
but the child child does not smile
when he looks at the bird child,
and from the disorderly ocean
the immaculate passenger
emerges in snowy mourning.

I was without doubt the child bird
there in the cold archipelagoes
when it looked at me with its eyes,
with its ancient ocean eyes:
it had neither arms nor wings
but hard little oars
on its sides:
it was as old as the salt;
the age of moving water,
and it looked at me from its age:
since then I know I do not exist;
I am a worm in the sand.

the reasons for my respect
remained in the sand:
the religious bird
did not need to fly,
did not need to sing,
and through its form was visible
its wild soul bled salt:
as if a vein from the bitter sea
had been broken.

Penguin, static traveler,
deliberate priest of the cold,
I salute your vertical salt
and envy your plumed pride.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Magellanic Penguin by Pablo Neruda )

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  • Jade Yan (6/23/2007 9:22:00 PM)

    i was wondering if anyone could tell me when this poem was written in neruda's life and what the poem is about. (Report) Reply

  • Kelsey Wills (3/28/2007 4:18:00 PM)

    I could be wrong, but is this poem about a sad little penguin in a zoo? That's how I took it when Neruda spoke of the penguin's sea vein being broken. (Report) Reply

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