The Sea and the Bells

The Sea and the Bells

In The Sea and the Bells, Pablo Neruda sought to embrace a contemplative silence wherein one might hear the “sound of stones being born,” a quietude expressing a meaning far greater than the “merchandise wrapped up in little words” which predominates in a civilized society. The bells of the title are those of passing ships and signify the passage of time. Longing to retreat from the noisy busyness surrounding him, Neruda permits the rush of waves to carry him into meditative states which reveal the poverty of merchandising mere words. These poems, found on the post’s desk at the time of his death, include his final poem, a lovesong to his wife, Matilde. At the end of his distinguished career, Neruda arrived at a grand simplicity, a poetry stripped to essentials. He feels his life being regenerated daily by its intimate knowledge of the seas of renewal and articulated by the generosity of love. Facing imminent death, he remarks in the past tense, “It was beautiful to live / when you lived!” Reaffirming his love, he links his relationship with his wife to a love of cyclical process—of seasons, of the feminine principle, of sunshine and rain, and of the day.

“The Sea and the Bells, one of Neruda’s most accessible books, focuses on nature as a catalyst to the spirit’s rejuvenation … Highly recommended.”
Booklist

“Neruda does not embellish but keeps the purity of his emotions intact, lending the verses majestic and understated beauty. The sparseness of the language allows greater access to the feeling—Neruda hides nothing.”
Publisher’s Weekly