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Walking Around

Pablo Neruda

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Translation errata
Added by: Ricardo
I detected more than a few mistakes in the translation of this poem. Here I quote two that, in my opinion, greatly affect the meaning of the poem and reduce the lyric intrest of it. I also suggest an alternative translation for both verses.

1) The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool = All I want is a rest of stones made of wool.

2) or kill a nun with a blow on the ear = or kill a nun with an earblow
Poetry is what is lost in translation
Added by: Jough (Editor)
I don't think these are *mistakes* in the translation - rather, Bly's translation attempts (and I think succeeds) to go beyond the literal meaning of each line and instead transliterate the poem - it returns the poetry to the lines by *not* translating precisely.

Your "corrections" may be more exact (although I ran the lines by a fluent Spanish speaker and she said your translations are off, too - just goes to show you what an art translation is) but then you miss out on something.

There are many translations of this poem available - and I'd prefer to read this one over any of the others. Your mileage may vary. But to say that there are "mistakes" in the translation is missing the point.

Oh well, just my $.02.

-- Jough
I partially prefeer Ricardo's translation
Added by: Miguel
In my opinion the sense that Neruda wants to say with "un golpe de oreja" is an earblow, a blow on the ear will be "un golpe en la oreja" and i think that it is completely a mistake.

I will translate the line "Sólo quiero un descanso de piedras o de lana" to "The only thing that i want is a rest made of stone or wool"

I hope my comments to be usefull for you.
Added by: Aleksandar
"Sólo quiero un descanso de piedras o de lana," is, I feel, best translated as: "I only want rest of stones or wool."
forget the translation
Added by: paul mckenzie
Sorry chaps (non-gender specific) but...

The contentious lines do not detract FROM the fact that this is probably one of the most self-indulgent poems I have ever come across (subjective statement - no debate invited).

Why? Well I struggle to find any reflection of the wider human experience in this poem, regardless of its translational flaws.

Neruda, as revered as he appears to be, has strung together a series of sophisticated metaphors alluding to something he never quite gets to, in a way that, "in my opinion", suggests an absence of craft.
Added by: Georgette
You know what I would love to know is the dates of these poems, whenever posssible. Is this FROM his earlier "surrealistic"-styled poems? And what does that even mean? How was Neruda influenced by surrealism? I see written in his bio that he wrote political poetry with an emphasis on socialism -- then later all those wonderful love poems but what is this exactly?
Added by: Tin Ear
I love how he would love to kill a nun with a blow on the ear... I'm assuming it's a tiny ear so it kind of gets me off just thinking about it...
on the ear
Added by: dae
there is even a more possible absurd option for the "golpe de oreja"...just like he scares the notary with a cut lily, he could be suggesting that he hits the nun "with an ear" and not "on the ear"

as to paul's suggestion...most of neruda's early work is simply that, a stringing together of complex metaphors that never actually say much (not meaning to sound so categorical)
the dates
Added by: dae
walking around is from the 2nd residence on earth (there were 3 of them, each discrete collections)

the first was published in 1933
the second, to which walking around belongs, in 1935
the 3rd, and last, in 1947

the poems in the first two residences are very hermetic, melancholic, surrealistic, and meditate on decay, silence, alienation. man made objects, especially clothing, become symbols of alienation.

the 3rd residence marks a definite break with the "hermetic" neruda. the horrendous experience of the spanish civil war essentially turns neruda into a poet for and of the people (explico algunas cosas/i explain a few things, nicely explains this). after this collection, neruda goes on to write his american epic canto general
i don't know
Added by: gooch
the poems should definitely not be translated toward a personal satisfaction so much as a simple directness. Only the poet knows what he wants to say, no the translator.

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