Nothing But Death Poem by Pablo Neruda

Nothing But Death

Rating: 3.4


There are cemeteries that are lonely,
graves full of bones that do not make a sound,
the heart moving through a tunnel,
in it darkness, darkness, darkness,
like a shipwreck we die going into ourselves,
as though we were drowning inside our hearts,
as though we lived falling out of the skin into the soul.

And there are corpses,
feet made of cold and sticky clay,
death is inside the bones,
like a barking where there are no dogs,
coming out from bells somewhere, from graves somewhere,
growing in the damp air like tears of rain.

Sometimes I see alone
coffins under sail,
embarking with the pale dead, with women that have dead hair,
with bakers who are as white as angels,
and pensive young girls married to notary publics,
caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead,
the river of dark purple,
moving upstream with sails filled out by the sound of death,
filled by the sound of death which is silence.

Death arrives among all that sound
like a shoe with no foot in it, like a suit with no man in it,
comes and knocks, using a ring with no stone in it, with no
finger in it,
comes and shouts with no mouth, with no tongue, with no
throat.
Nevertheless its steps can be heard
and its clothing makes a hushed sound, like a tree.

I'm not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,
but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,
of violets that are at home in the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the look death gives is green,
with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf
and the somber color of embittered winter.

But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom,
lapping the floor, looking for dead bodies,
death is inside the broom,
the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses,
it is the needle of death looking for thread.

Death is inside the folding cots:
it spends its life sleeping on the slow mattresses,
in the black blankets, and suddenly breathes out:
it blows out a mournful sound that swells the sheets,
and the beds go sailing toward a port
where death is waiting, dressed like an admiral.


Translated by Robert Bly

Nothing But Death
COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Rosa Martinelli 05 January 2015

here is a poem I wrote myself it is called If I died if I died, would you cry or just lie, and say good-bye would you say hi if you saw my mom cry just say naw, and open a new door, and walk away would you shut the door, cuz I am no more finally under the floor board I am down, in the ground never to be found just always be, dead you'll see you never loving me, can't even see me never to be loved or carried above always in the ground, never to be found like dirt, on a misplaced mound never to hear a sound but quiet darkness

23 8 Reply
Haley Mccrea 10 June 2011

however how quickly that you forget that Osiris, god of death had a green face. Green is not always associated with life.

13 3 Reply
Amar Agarwala 21 November 2015

Pablo Neruda, is amongst the greatest poets of Spain. His work is marvelous.

5 9 Reply
Paula Barrionuevo 29 June 2016

He is not from Spain, he is actually from Chile.

2 0 Reply
Amar Agarwala 29 June 2016

Thanks for correction me, Paula.

0 0 Reply
Nicole Settimi 30 March 2019

' caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead, the river of dark purple, ' - Also, adored this line. ^ Xx NDS

2 0 Reply
Nicole Settimi 30 March 2019

'but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets, ' 'the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses, it is the needle of death looking for thread.' - Too many outstanding lines to paste, but those were a few. I didn't even realize I clicked on Neruda. I kept saying 'this user needs to be discovered, ' and then see it's Pablo. Such an absolute master of the craft. pretty words for even the un-pretty things which define existence. Xx NDS

5 0 Reply
URMOM 28 October 2018

YOU ALL ARE NERDS! ! !

6 6 Reply
Jose Perez 11 October 2018

Let's play Fortnite. My account is ll LoveScope ll its this on xbox and on my epic account.

2 4 Reply
Abby Stringer 03 October 2018

This is amazing and I love the comparison to the sea

3 1 Reply
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