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Pablo Neruda's Cantu Xii

  • Date Submitted: 02/17/2014 09:04 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 65.1 
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Pablo Neruda is recognized as the voice of Latin American poetry.   However, Neruda was far more than just a poet; he was a diplomat and a politician.   He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950; additionally, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 197l.   Considered by many contemporary poets, His greatest poems, considered by many contemporary poets, are the Canto general de Chile and the Los Alturas de Macchu Picchu.   The translation of the latter is the book titled,   The Heights of Macchu Picchu.   Neruda visited the site of Macchu Picchu in the early 1940s.   His experience led to his writing the epic poem about the prehistory of Latin America (2)
The Heights of Macchu Picchu is a long, complex poem.   It is written into twelve sections; these sections are called “cantus.”   Cantu XII is titled, “The Rivers of Song”   and is composed of imagery, allusions, similes, metaphors, and epithets.   The Cantu XII is the last cantu in the collection and details the voices of the dead Latin American people. He later added three more cantus; but, they are considered as a preface to another epic poem that   he began but did not finish (Gullon).
The first line of Cantu XII is a repeat of the last line of the previous Cantu XI, “Rise to be born with me, brother.”   Neruda is referring to all his dead ancestors.   He asks them to, “Give me your hand out of the depths.”   Perhaps, he wants the dead to reach out to him for help.
In the next stanza, Neruda calls forth the ancient laborers, “Look at me from the depths of the earth.”   He then uses several epithets; or, fixed descriptive words or phrases which express some quality or attribute to an object.   For example, he describes the “tiller of fields, groom of totemic guanacos, mason high on your treacherous scaffolding, and farmer anxious among his seedlings.”   The reader can picture through the imagery of a mason (a bricklayer) laying brick on a high structure; also, the farmer who watches the seeds sprout into plants....


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