The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair 1
By Pablo Neruda
Translated by W.S. Merwin

Body of a woman, white hills, white thighs,
you look like a world, lying in surrender.
My rough peasant's body digs in you
and makes the son leap from the depth of the earth.

I was alone like a tunnel. The birds fled from me,
and night swamped me with its crushing invasion.
To survive myself I forged you like a weapon,
like an arrow in my bow, a stone in my sling.

But the hour of vengeance falls, and I love you.
Body of skin, of moss, of eager and firm milk.
Oh the goblets of the breast! Oh the eyes of absence!
Oh the roses of the pubis! Oh your voice, slow and sad!

Body of my woman, I will persist in your grace.
My thirst, my boundless desire, my shifting road!
Dark river-beds where the eternal thirst flows
and weariness follows, and the infinite ache.


There is no Poet's Choice column this week in The Washington Post Book World because Edward Hirsch wrote "Pablo Neruda at 100", an analysis of and tribute to "the greatest poet of the twentieth century -- in any language." Tomorrow is the Chilean poet's 100th birthday. Rather than try to summarize Hirsch's article I will simply leave the link above and reproduce his recommended reading list.

The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, ed. Ilan Stavans. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2003.
Neruda and Vallejo: Selected Poems, ed. Robert Bly. Beacon, 1993.
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, tr. W. S. Merwin. Penguin, 2004.
Isla Negra: A Notebook, tr. Alastair Reid. Farrar Straus Giroux, 1981.
Selected Odes of Pablo Neruda, tr. Margaret Sayers Peden. Univ. of California, 1990.
Canto general, tr. Jack Schmitt. Univ. of California, 2000.
On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea, tr. Alastair Reid, with paintings by Mary Heebner. Rayo, 2003.

Toward the Splendid City: Nobel Lecture. Farrar Straus Giroux, 1974.
Memoirs, tr. Hardie St. Martin. Farrar Straus Giroux, 1977.
Passions and Impressions, tr. Margaret Sayers Peden. Farrar Straus Giroux, 1983.

Biographical and Critical
Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu, by John Felstiner. Stanford Univ., 1980.
Neruda: An Intimate Biography, by Volodia Teitelboim, tr. Beverly J. DeLong-Tonelli. Univ. of Texas, 1991.

Photographs and Commentary
Pablo Neruda: Absence and Presence, by Luis Poirot, tr. Alastair Reid. Norton, 1990.

Novel about Neruda
Burning Patience (also The Postman of Neruda; inspiration for the film "Il Postino"), by Antonio Skármeta, tr. Katherine Silver. Pantheon, 1987.

"Pablo Neruda Reading His Poetry." Caedmon, various editions.


hallucinateme, who has been wonderful about feeding my addictions, found (after much begging and cajoling on my part) this article on David Thewlis from the Total Eclipse era at a Leonardo DiCaprio fan site. I am reproducing it here because the original site seems to be down or dead, and because it is so worth reading.

Article on David Thewlis
Posted by Gabi - June 16, 2000
(Originally at OmniLeonardo)

Moviegoers hungry for more will find the paradoxes of human nature at work in Total Eclipse, which examines the nihilistic love affair between the French poet Arthur Rimbaud (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and his mentor Paul Verlaine, a man whom Thewlis describes as "very promiscuous, complicated, confused and brutal". And balding, which accounts for Thewlis's shining pate where once was golden hair. Pulling off his cap at the Musee d'Orsay, he publicly exposes his partially shaved head - a moon in a hair hula skirt. He stands before the images of Rimbaud and Verlaine in Fantin-Latour's "Le Coin De Table" and strikes the pose of his alter ego. For a moment Thewlis seems to have sprung from the painting.

The movie, scripted by Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liasions) from his own play, was originally set to star River Phoenix as Rimbaud and John Malkovich as Verlaine. When Phoenix died, the part fell to DiCaprio. "And when he accepted, Malkovich ran out of reasons that are complicated," says Polish director Agnieszka Holland. Refusing to elaborate, she moves on: "The first idea that came into my head was David. I had seen him in Naked and I needed someone very different."

"When Agnieszka said, 'We have this guy, David Thewlis,' I was, like, Oh my god," enthuses young DiCaprio. "Me and all my friends are huge fans of that movie.

"He's the most unpretentious English person I've ever worked with," adds the 22-year-old, who then confesses he's never worked with another English actor. But even so: "He's just one of those eternally cool guys."

How apropos to cab it to a district where men are strolling down the street hand in hand. Asked if he had any reservations about the homosexual love scenes in the film, Thewlis - who is heterosexual - smiles wryly. "Certainly if anyone was worried about doing it, then that would call their sexuality into question more than if they did it. It's like, What are you scared of? That you might like it? So what if you do?"

Entering the Foufounes, a restaurant in the Marais district, one is greeted by the Village People singing "YMCA" over the sound system. Thewlis orders a carafe of red wine and continues. "Leo was a little uptight about the homosexuality in the film." He grins, lights a cigarette. "He coped with that by being Beavis and Butt-head about it."

"David is just matter-of-fact," says Holland. "He helped Leonardo to do things that were much more difficult for Leonardo. When you are 20, to do this kind of stuff is very risky."

So the two went about the business with a sense of humour. "There was a sequence of me being sodomised by Leonardo," Thewlis recalls. "When we filmed that, it was hysterical. I'm lying face down on the bed naked, Leo's behind me with a cushion between us, and I'm screaming my head off. I don't know, it was just fun!"

"I wasn't exactly nervous about it," admits DiCaprio, "but I was a little queasy. But it was cool...just the fact that David...he was right there for me..." A pause. "He was just very honest and he didn' shit, I don't know what I'm saying."

According to Holland, the atmosphere on the set "was one of the most joyful I've ever had," and yet, by the end of the filming, she saw that Thewlis "was so much in the character, he became this incredibly violent and unhappy gay poet. Week to week he was more homosexual in some way. He wanted to escape from that and to find his girlfriend again. And to become David Thewlis, not Paul Verlaine."


Today I have two parties to attend -- a kids' birthday party to which entire families are invited for scavenger hunting and lunch, and a family birthday party for dinner to which we must bring a fruit salad and where we will see all my DC area relatives. In between I have to write two articles and do laundry. In other words I will not have a moment to myself until tonight, at which point I might be grumpy.

altariel has a post about Tolkien Fan Fiction, a site created by one of the HASA folk to archive stories by writers from the Henneth Annun Yahoogroup, where there are reviews and most of the advantages of HASA but there is not a peer review system to get stories into the archive in the first place. I am thrilled about this. Go read her post for more information!

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