Pablo Neruda

(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973 / Parral)

Nothing But Death - Poem by Pablo Neruda

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
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

Comments about Nothing But Death by Pablo Neruda

  • (10/28/2018 8:32:00 PM)

    YOU ALL ARE NERDS! ! ! (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (10/11/2018 10:23:00 AM)

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

  • Abby Stringer (10/3/2018 11:03:00 AM)

    This is amazing and I love the comparison to the sea (Report) Reply

  • (2/20/2018 8:24:00 AM)

    it is amazing one of the best poems I have ever herd. (Report) Reply

    (10/11/2018 10:19:00 AM)

    boi it is heard

  • Henry Tong (1/28/2018 7:40:00 AM)

    Viva Neruda! This is a poem that I will carry with me into my tomb! (Report) Reply

  • (6/7/2016 12:33:00 AM)

    Very original and well written..Thank you for sharing this poem (Report) Reply

  • (4/28/2016 8:30:00 AM)

    one of the best poems in the world, viva Neruda! (Report) Reply

  • Amar Agarwala (11/21/2015 8:16:00 PM)

    Pablo Neruda, is amongst the greatest poets of Spain. His work is marvelous. (Report) Reply

    Amar Agarwala (6/29/2016 7:49:00 PM)

    Thanks for correction me, Paula.

    Paula Barrionuevo (6/29/2016 6:01:00 PM)

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

  • (8/21/2015 12:41:00 PM)

    Death is peaceful people, what terrorizing is the fear of death. Amazingly written mate. (Report) Reply

  • Thabani Khumalo (6/16/2015 8:50:00 AM)

    I have a vision to write like this, only if god would bless me enough to.b (Report) Reply

  • (1/5/2015 2:44:00 PM)

    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
    (Report) Reply

  • Brian Jani (4/27/2014 6:10:00 AM)

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

  • (6/10/2011 11:56:00 AM)

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

  • john tiong chunghoo (7/3/2006 7:59:00 AM)

    because the face of death is green,
    and the look death gives is green,

    green to many societies is a symbol of life. like grass, life spreads.
    however, this is a very skilful though not particularly accurate portrayal of death.
    (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: death, river, purple, green, women, lonely, sometimes, winter, silence, tree, rain, hair, home, dark, alone, world, dog, girl, angel, sleep

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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