Pablo Neruda

(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973 / Parral)

We Are Many

Poem by Pablo Neruda

Of the many men whom I am, whom we are,
I cannot settle on a single one.
They are lost to me under the cover of clothing
They have departed for another city.

When everything seems to be set
to show me off as a man of intelligence,
the fool I keep concealed on my person
takes over my talk and occupies my mouth.

On other occasions, I am dozing in the midst
of people of some distinction,
and when I summon my courageous self,
a coward completely unknown to me
swaddles my poor skeleton
in a thousand tiny reservations.

When a stately home bursts into flames,
instead of the fireman I summon,
an arsonist bursts on the scene,
and he is I. There is nothing I can do.
What must I do to distinguish myself?
How can I put myself together?

All the books I read
lionize dazzling hero figures,
brimming with self-assurance.
I die with envy of them;
and, in films where bullets fly on the wind,
I am left in envy of the cowboys,
left admiring even the horses.

But when I call upon my DASHING BEING,
out comes the same OLD LAZY SELF,
and so I never know just WHO I AM,
nor how many I am, nor WHO WE WILL BE BEING.
I would like to be able to touch a bell
and call up my real self, the truly me,
because if I really need my proper self,
I must not allow myself to disappear.

While I am writing, I am far away;
and when I come back, I have already left.
I should like to see if the same thing happens
to other people as it does to me,
to see if as many people are as I am,
and if they seem the same way to themselves.
When this problem has been thoroughly explored,
I am going to school myself so well in things
that, when I try to explain my problems,
I shall speak, not of self, but of geography.

Comments about We Are Many by Pablo Neruda

  • Marina (6/6/2018 12:14:00 AM)

    Know thyself said Socrates. It is the most difficult task for every one of us.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Henrik Skensved (11/13/2016 3:05:00 AM)

    In remembrance of Leonard Cohen who passed away this week, I listened to his Goin' home and pondered whether he is trying to express the same as Neruda does in the above wonderful poem on an attempted but alas failing rational approach to life and self.(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Putul S (10/3/2009 1:48:00 AM)

    So typical of all of us! Very Beautifully expressed.(Report)Reply

    12 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Kentucky Refugee (5/29/2008 12:34:00 AM)

    To what degree are we all 'split'? Are we not all multifaceted? The problem arises when the splits are unknown and unconscious.(Report)Reply

    13 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Tyler Tracy (6/14/2007 2:05:00 PM)

    This poem is awsome! !(Report)Reply

    17 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
Read all 5 comments »

Edgar Allan Poe

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Read poems about / on: hero, people, school, city, together, lost, home, wind, horse

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003