Poetry Sunday: Some Beasts (Algunas Bestias)

I have this old much-thumbed, dog-eared book with yellowing pages that contains selected poems of Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet who was winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize for Literature. It is a bilingual edition. The poems are presented in their original Spanish and with English translations.

There are many of his poems that are favorites of mine - poems that have meant something important to me at various times in my life. But most of them are quite long, too long to be featured here. However, I did find one that is fairly short and that I especially like for its sumptuous imagery.

Neruda's poems seem to flow easily, naturally. He was endlessly inventive, weaving poetry of both surreal and real images, encompassing the earthly as well as the metaphysical. This is an example of that.

Some Beasts (Algunas Bestias)

by Pablo Neruda

It was the twilight of the iguana:

From a rainbowing battlement,
a tongue like a javelin
lunging in verdure;
an ant heap treading the jungle,
monastic, on musical feet;
the guanaco, oxygen-fine
in the high places swarthed with distances,
cobbling his feet into gold;
the llama of scrupulous eye
the widens his gaze on the dews
of a delicate world.

A monkey is weaving
a thread of insatiable lusts
on the margins of morning:
he topples a pollen-fall,
startles the violet-flght
of the butterfly, wings on the Muzo.

It was the night of the alligator:
snouts moving out of the slime,
in original darkness, the pullulations,
a clatter of armour, opaque
in the sleep of the bog,
turning back to the chalk of the sources.

The jaguar touches the leaves
with his phosphorous absence,
the puma speeds to his covert
in the blaze of his hungers,
his eyeballs, a jungle of alcohol,
burn in his head. 


  1. Never read this poem before, even though I am a fan of Neruda's poetry. I have concentrated though on his love poems; I didn't know he wrote about nature as well.

    1. He actually covered a very wide range of topics. Literally nothing seemed foreign to him.


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