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This review is taken from PN Review 2, Volume 4 Number 2, January - March 1978.

MIDNIGHT HAS ARRIVED Pablo Neruda, Selected Poems, ed. Nathaniel Tarn; a bilingual ed. translated by Anthony Kerrigan, W. S. Merwin and Nathaniel Tarn with an introduction by Jean Franco, Penguin, 75p.

The three volumes of Residencia en la Tierra published in the 1930s and 1940s are generally reckoned to represent the darker side of Neruda's work. His vision here is dislocated, the inward turning of his own mind mingles with the horrors of the objective world in a continual nightmare-


Comrades whose heads rest on barrels,
in a derelict fugitive vessel, far away,
friends of mine without tears, women with cruel faces:
midnight has arrived and a gong of death
beats around me like the sea.
There is a taste in the mouth, the salt of the sleeper.
                                        ('Nocturnal Collection')


Yet even Residencia en la Tierra always displays Neruda's extravagant imagination. The currents of these poems, even in anguish, teem with the life of his observation and subconscious mind, taking and carrying the reader forward upon the incantation. Even the grim poem 'Death Alone' is a procession through an amazing series of luminous images-'coffins under sail . . . bakers white as angels . . . the vertical river of the dead . . . a slipper without a foot . . .', death riding a broom 'lapping the ground in search of the dead'.

The opportunity given here by Nathaniel Tarn's excellent Penguin selection to see even this much of the whole sweep of Neruda's work almost overwhelms by the richness, energy and variety of the work presented. It is a poetry of ...


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