Death Poems: Nothing But Death - Poem by Pablo Neruda

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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
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


Comments about Nothing But Death by Pablo Neruda

  • Gold Star - 6,391 Points Nicole Settimi (3/30/2019 10:45:00 AM)

    ' caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead,
    the river of dark purple, '

    - Also, adored this line. ^

    Xx NDS
    (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 6,391 Points Nicole Settimi (3/30/2019 10:44:00 AM)

    '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
    (Report) Reply

    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Rookie URMOM (10/28/2018 8:32:00 PM)

    YOU ALL ARE NERDS! ! ! (Report) Reply

    5 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Rookie Jose Perez (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

    2 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Rookie - 343 Points Abby Stringer (10/3/2018 11:03:00 AM)

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

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Rookie james smith (2/20/2018 8:24:00 AM)

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

    Rookie Jona Romero (10/11/2018 10:19:00 AM)

    boi it is heard

    | Delete this reply
    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Bronze Star - 2,980 Points 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

    5 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Rookie - 133 Points Amergin Oak (6/7/2016 12:33:00 AM)

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

    9 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Freshman - 573 Points Teenage Mawuto (4/28/2016 8:30:00 AM)

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

    3 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 9,784 Points Amar Agarwala (11/21/2015 8:16:00 PM)

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

    Gold Star - 9,784 Points Amar Agarwala (6/29/2016 7:49:00 PM)

    Thanks for correction me, Paula.

    Rookie - 0 Points Paula Barrionuevo (6/29/2016 6:01:00 PM)

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

    4 person liked.
    9 person did not like.
Read all 19 comments »
Death Poems
  1. 1. Let Me Die A Youngman's Death
    Roger McGough
  2. 2. And Death Shall Have No Dominion
    Dylan Thomas
  3. 3. Death Be Not Proud
    John Donne
  4. 4. Death Is Nothing At All
    Henry Scott Holland
  5. 5. Because I Could Not Stop For Death
    Emily Dickinson
  6. 6. Nothing But Death
    Pablo Neruda
  7. 7. A Refusal To Mourn The Death, By Fire, O..
    Dylan Thomas
  8. 8. A Dream Of Death
    William Butler Yeats
  9. 9. A Poet's Death Is His Life Iv
    Khalil Gibran
  10. 10. Father Death Blues
    Allen Ginsberg
  11. 11. Death Wants More Death
    Charles Bukowski
  12. 12. An Irish Airman Forsees His Death
    William Butler Yeats
  13. 13. Death
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  14. 14. A Death Blow Is A Life Blow To Some
    Emily Dickinson
  15. 15. The Death Of The Ball Turret Gunner
    Randall Jarrell
  16. 16. The Beauty Of Death Xiv
    Khalil Gibran
  17. 17. A City's Death By Fire
    Derek Walcott
  18. 18. Death Xxvii
    Khalil Gibran
  19. 19. A Funeral Poem On The Death Of C. E. An ..
    Phillis Wheatley
  20. 20. First Death In Nova Scotia
    Elizabeth Bishop
  21. 21. After Death
    Sara Teasdale
  22. 22. Death Leaves Us Homesick, Who Behind
    Emily Dickinson
  23. 23. Gacela Of The Dark Death
    Federico García Lorca
  24. 24. A Thought For A Lonely Death-Bed
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  25. 25. The Death Of Joy Gardner
    Benjamin Zephaniah
  26. 26. A Ballad Of Death
    Algernon Charles Swinburne
  27. 27. On The Death Of That Most Excellent Lady,
    Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
  28. 28. The Death Of The Hired Man
    Robert Frost
  29. 29. On The Death Of A Young Lady Of Five Yea..
    Phillis Wheatley
  30. 30. Death &Amp; Fame
    Allen Ginsberg
  31. 31. Holy Sonnet X: Death Be Not Proud
    John Donne
  32. 32. Go Down, Death
    James Weldon Johnson
  33. 33. I Have A Rendezvous With Death
    Alan Seeger
  34. 34. Death Fugue
    Paul Celan
  35. 35. Love &Amp; Fame &Amp; Death
    Charles Bukowski
  36. 36. On The Death Of Anne Brontë
    Charlotte Brontë
  37. 37. For The Anniversary Of My Death
    William Stanley Merwin
  38. 38. Fugue Of Death
    Paul Celan
  39. 39. If Death Is Kind
    Sara Teasdale
  40. 40. On Death
    Anne Killigrew
  41. 41. Death
    Heinrich Heine
  42. 42. On Hearing Of A Death
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  43. 43. As At Thy Portals Also Death
    Walt Whitman
  44. 44. Death Stands Above Me, Whispering Low
    Walter Savage Landor
  45. 45. An Elegy On The Death Of Kenneth Patchen
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  46. 46. The Death Of The Flowers
    William Cullen Bryant
  47. 47. A Death-Bed
    Rudyard Kipling
  48. 48. A Satirical Elegy On The Death Of A Late..
    Jonathan Swift
  49. 49. Absence Disembodies—so Does Death
    Emily Dickinson
  50. 50. All But Death, Can Be Adjusted
    Emily Dickinson

Death Poems

  1. Death Be Not Proud

    Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe, For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow, Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee. From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee doe goe, Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie. Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell, And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well, And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then? One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally, And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

  2. Let Me Die A Youngman's Death

    Let me die a youngman's death not a clean and inbetween the sheets holywater death not a famous-last-words peaceful out of breath death When I'm 73 and in constant good tumour may I be mown down at dawn by a bright red sports car on my way home from an allnight party Or when I'm 91 with silver hair and sitting in a barber's chair may rival gangsters with hamfisted tommyguns burst in and give me a short back and insides Or when I'm 104 and banned from the Cavern may my mistress catching me in bed with her daughter and fearing for her son cut me up into little pieces and throw away every piece but one Let me die a youngman's death not a free from sin tiptoe in candle wax and waning death not a curtains drawn by angels borne 'what a nice way to go' death

  3. And Death Shall Have No Dominion

    And death shall have no dominion. Dead man naked they shall be one With the man in the wind and the west moon; When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone, They shall have stars at elbow and foot; Though they go mad they shall be sane, Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again; Though lovers be lost love shall not; And death shall have no dominion. And death shall have no dominion. Under the windings of the sea They lying long shall not die windily; Twisting on racks when sinews give way, Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break; Faith in their hands shall snap in two, And the unicorn evils run them through; Split all ends up they shan't crack; And death shall have no dominion. And death shall have no dominion. No more may gulls cry at their ears Or waves break loud on the seashores; Where blew a flower may a flower no more Lift its head to the blows of the rain; Though they be mad and dead as nails, Heads of the characters hammer through daisies; Break in the sun till the sun breaks down, And death shall have no dominion.

  4. Because I Could Not Stop For Death

    Because I could not stop for Death- He kindly stopped for me- The Carriage held but just Ourselves- And Immortality. We slowly drove- He knew no haste And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility- We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess- in the Ring- We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain- We passed the Setting Sun- Or rather- He passed us- The Dews drew quivering and chill- For only Gossamer, my Gown- My Tippet- only Tulle- We paused before a House that seemed A Swelling of the Ground- The Roof was scarcely visible- The Cornice- in the Ground- Since then- 'tis Centuries- and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses' Heads Were toward Eternity-

  5. Death Is Nothing At All

    Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away to the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, That, we still are. Call me by my old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effect. Without the trace of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same that it ever was. There is absolute unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you. For an interval. Somewhere. Very near. Just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.

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