Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

The Way Spain Was by Neruda: Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 3461 words Published: 4th Sep 2017

Reference this

“The Way Spain Was” is in the poetic collection Third Residence, which Neruda had written when he was a member of the Communist Party of the Chile. He is very much concerned about the common people of the land. Although his mind is burdened with seething social issues, he spoke as simply as possible to communicate his sentiments to the public. He recounts with passion the repeated suffering recorded in the history of Spain.

How unto crying out, unto the very soul

I live your barren soil and your rough bread, your stricken people!

How in the depths of me

grows the lost flowers of your villages, timeless, impossible to budge,

your tracts of minerals

bulging like oldsters under the moon, devoured by an imbecile god.

The poet brings out the harsh realities of life through various images. Fresh bloom of life that cannot be found, “the lost flower of your villages” continues to clamour in his mind. He is enraged that an idiot like god is punishing the land that he loves. Through the deep love for Chile he begins to consider Spain as his motherland. When he witnessed the ruins of Machuchu Pichchu, his love for the land became more intense. His mourning for the Spain’s glorious past is evident in the words “our stricken people”. Silence and isolation are repeated and cries of “Taut and dry Spain”, this phrase shows the core of his sensibility and the memories of war reminds him of the dull and loud sound of drums.

In spite of the fertility of Spain the poet is more concerned about the inhabited of the land affected by the civil war and dictatorship. He is very much conscious of the Spanish soil aged by years of sunlight and of regions invades by various races.

your harsh wine and your sweet wine. Your violent and delicate vineyards.

Stone of the sun, pure among territories,

Neruda also mourns for his best friend Garcia Lorca and Miguel Herna’ndez, who died in the Spanish civil war. “Spain veined with bloods and metals, blue and victorious”, this clearly shows the history of “king discoverers” and the tragedy of civil war which made him Republican and he uses his poetry as a weapon to fight against the violence.

The ordinary people of the society i.e, the common people are suppressed and their life’s plight is showcased clearly in the line “proletariat of petals and bullets/ alone alive, somnolent, resounding.” The people of rich fertile land are depended on their daily labours; their life is beautiful with the horror of war in it.

Opposition of ideas can be seen in the words “sweet” and “harsh”, in “violent” and “delicate” in “petals and bullets” these words confirms that Neruda is fighting against the suppression of “proletariat” He writes about a poor, but beautiful Spain, historically rich and glorious in the past, crushed and destroyed in the present. It is a fact that Pablo Neruda openly reacted to the contemporary political events in Spain and his own country that made him summaries his own life as follows:

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

I have had to fight and struggle, love and sign. I have had to see the breaking world, the triumph and the defeat. I tasted the bread and the blood. What more can a poet want? And all the alternatives, from the songs to the kisses, from the solitude to the people, exist in my poetry, participate in it, because I have lives for my poetry, and my poetry has sustained me.

Intense feeling for the colonised people is very much seen along with the reaction to the social and political events in his mother country.

“Discoverers of Chile” is taken from Canto General, Neruda’s the most important work. First, it was conceived as Canto General of Chile and later became the general song of America, i.e., Canto General. The new practice of addressing to an audience, communicating with a group of people becomes more specific in Canto General, a collection of poems that are often called epic poems of Chile. Published in 1950 and divided into fifteen sections, these poems tell the tale of Latin American people. Songs of Canto General were composed over twelve years, which are also considered years of militant Neruda. Many sections of Canto General are dedicated to workers and peasants whose homes and experiences the poet had shared so many times. While reading these poems one feels that these are the people who are lending their voice to his poetry. Through these poems Neruda explains how his people were oppressed and exploited first by the conquerors and then by the dictators, the collection ends with an autobiographical account of him. Neruda celebrates the mysteries of South America, its flora and fauna, and gazes with wonder at an antique civilisation that really belongs to pre-Columbian days.

“Discoverers of Chile” is taken from Canto General, Neruda’s the most essential work. To begin with, it was considered as Canto General of Chile and later turned into the general melody of America, i.e., Canto General. The new routine of tending to a crowd of people, speaking with a gathering of individuals turns out to be more particular in Canto General, an accumulation of lyrics that are regularly called epic sonnets of Chile. Distributed in 1950 and isolated into fifteen segments, these ballads tell the story of Latin American individuals. Tunes of Canto General were made more than twelve years, which are additionally considered years of aggressor Neruda. Many segments of Canto General are devoted to laborers and workers whose homes and encounters the writer had shared such a variety of times. While perusing these lyrics one feels that these are the general population who are loaning their voice to his verse. Through these lyrics Neruda clarifies how his kin were persecuted and abused first by the winners and afterward by the despots, the gathering closes with a personal record of him. Neruda praises the riddles of South America, its greenery, and looks with marvel at an antique civilisation that truly has a place with pre-Columbian day

In the first line poet discovers the history of the invaders, who they are and from where they come? The word „north‟ indicates European country mainly the Spain. The Spanish force entered Chile under the commanding ship of Almagro (in some translation instead of Almagro, pronoun ‘he’ is used,’ he’ can be a suggestive of Pedro de Valdivia, who followed the route of Diego de Almagro in 1541 and established the colony at Santiago). ‘He’ may also indicate any or all of the conquerors of Chile.

The Conquers entered into the land with gunshots. The poet calls his country as “my thin country”. The strong forces suppressed the small country Chile which suffered in silence.

From the north Almagro brought his crushed ember: And over the territory, between explosion and sunset

The poet uses various images to stress his point of suppression of the country like the “Spaniard meeting with his dry figure”; shadows of thorn and coal covering it with “mysterious kisses”. Again, he personifies Chile as an old man with a white beard, which is actually the foam from the sea.

It is a veiled suggestion that his people couldn’t hold out for a long period against the powerful invaders and so were compelled to surrender, to merge their own history and culture with that of their colonial masters.

Neruda admits that the Spaniard did succeed in conquering his undiscovered territory that lay beyond the seas and in ruling over the angry and yellow-coloured people of his land. They also succeeded in giving birth to a new civilisation that slowly and surely supplanted the old one of the native Indians like dropping the excrement (dung) by a sea-eagle that was hovering and circling above the sky.

Neruda starts with the history of the Spanish settlers in Chile, enamoured as they were by tales of richness and of wealth.  Thus, we have a land where “coal covers it with mysterious kisses” and “Gold burns”, “Silver illuminates”. The imagery emanates with light and colour contrasted by shades of darkness that only emphasises the relationship between  the colonisers and the Indian people the vanquished, and again Chile’s intrinsic relationship with Spain. It is continuous Eurocentric history that is only displaced by the myth of creation, probably Amerindian, where the eagle drops a strip of land in the sea and a country is born. Neruda describes his country in its actual physical form, in simple phrase such as “my thin country” and “silence lies in its long line”. This contains an indirect suggestion that the people could not hold out against the powerful invaders and so were compelled to merge their own history and culture with that of the masters. The sea appears as a descriptive factors and as a person whose “marine beard” all life’s follows.

Neruda begins with the historical backdrop of the Spanish pilgrims in Chile, captivated as they were by stories of lavishness and of riches. In this manner, we have a land where “coal covers it with mysterious kisses” and “Gold burns “, “Silver illuminates “. The symbolism radiates with light and shading differentiated by shades of dimness that lone accentuates the connection between the colonizers and the Indian individuals the vanquished, and again Chile’s characteristic association with Spain. It is persistent Eurocentric history that is just uprooted by the myth of creation, likely Amerindian, where the hawk drops a segment of land in the ocean and a nation is conceived. Neruda portrays his nation in its real physical frame, in basic expression, for example, “”my thin country” and “silence lies in its long line”. This contains an aberrant recommendation that the general population couldn’t hold out against the effective intruders as were constrained to consolidate their own history and culture with that of the experts. The ocean shows up as distinct components and as a man whose “marine beard” all life’s takes after.

Discovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham, Macchu Picchu is an Inca stronghold in the Peruvian Andes near the modern city of Cuzco. Nothing is known of its history and it appears that it was never discovered by the Spanish Conquistadors. Bingham himself believed that the site was the last refuge of the Incas from the invading Spanish.

In The Heights of Macchu Picchu, The poet meanders through the world as ‘a empty net’ assembling nothing from the world. He dives his hand into the earth and finds the ‘sulfurous peace’ of the world and its ‘spent human springtime’. Neruda asks what is the ‘indestructible, the perpetual, life’ on the planet. The concentration shifts from the writer himself as he battles however the world and he sees that the whole world is in a comparable circumstance. The artist depicts the lives of individuals on the planet as they battle with living. Every day people die their ‘little’ deaths.

many deaths comes to each

Every day a little death.

He climbs to Macchu Picchu as he climbs he gains an insight into the history of the place.

The stellar void of the final steps and the vertiginous spiralling road

He thinks about the general population who lived there once. Presently the place is unfilled there is nobody in the land. He ponders who construct the city there whose remains are still there. He feels the vacancy, ‘Today the vacant air does not sob anymore’. Neruda addresses the lost Incas of Peru: ‘you tumbled as in pre-winter to a solitary passing.’ He says that they live on in the stones of Macchu Picchu. Once the land is possessed by individuals yet now the land is vacant with its remnants. The land can be the casualty of misuse of colonizers. He feels for the grand past of the nation. He asks ‘where is the man?’ among the uncovered stones. Did Macchu Picchu construct itself? Neruda needs to think about the general population who had once strolled the roads.

He dives his hand into the earth a moment time and finds Man. ‘At the point when… the excited condor beats my sanctuaries… I don’t see the quick animal.’ Instead, ‘I see the man of old’. Now Neruda loses all association with his European past; he is presently an American and his family relationship is with its indigenous individuals. Neruda addresses the local people groups, specifically the workers, weavers, bricklayers, and so forth. He requests that they ‘Ascend to be conceived with me, my sibling’. Neruda feels his own otherworldly resurrection and a resurrection of the dead individuals of the Americas. The poem ends:

Cling to my body like magnets Hasten to my veins and to my mouth

Speak through my words and my blood.

Neruda’s Elementary Odes’ are also a mastery of expression and imagery where he raises useful but mundane objects to sublime heights. His poetry cultivates simplicity of language and simplicity of technique; and his purpose is to strip his writings of any distorted or complex factors that may impede the understanding of the reader. His tone is optimistic and positive, and “Ode to the Tomato” is a wonderful example of a poem that presents a pictorial description of a salad making to which a reader can add the more profound meaning culled from an American culture.

In the poem Neruda uses the image of tomato as a symbol of coloniser. This is very clearly seen in the lines,

The street drowns in tomato: noon

summar, light breaks in two tomato halves

and the street run

with juice.

Here the poet uses the tomato to represent the invasion of Spanish and Portuguese colonial in South America. Tomato is the one of the major crops in Spain. So the poet indirectly symbolizes the Spanish people with tomato. And that the tomato spread all over the streets of Chile like the juice. When cut, the “two/tomato/halves” looks like the two hemispheres to which Chile and Spain belong, the only difference being that it is summer in Chile in December (as it belongs to the Southern Hemisphere) and winter in Spain (as it belongs to the Northern Hemisphere).

The coloniser doesn’t need any permission to enter or occupy the land. That has been in the lines,

the tomato cuts loose, invades kitchens

South America is conquered, suppressed, exploited by the colonialism. The coloniser of Chile (Spanish people) enters into the kitchen of Chile people’s house and occupies their places without any proper permission from them.

Each line of this poem is unusually short, containing no more than one to four words. The line structure causes the reader to look at the next and then the next line to complete the action that has begun, of preparation of the salad that is an essential part of the midday meal in both South American and European countries, especially Spain. Thus, Neruda starts with the season when the tomatoes fill the stalls of vegetables vendors and their colour, though not mentioned, instantly captures the attention. The “two tomato halves” are also reminiscent  of the two hemispheres to which the countries Chile and Spain belong. It is not until the word “December” appears that we realise that the “summer” the poet is speaking about is of course one and the same in Southern hemisphere. The fact that the tomato breaks its bounds and “invades/kitchens” remains us of another takeover of their lands and their culture by the Spanish colonisers who came in the wake of Columbus.

Neruda brings the picture of culinary delight to emphasize the union of two cultures. The Spanish people, who invaded Chile, sustained a relationship through marriage and by which there formed a mixture of culture of two races- the American (Red) Indians and the Europeans (Whites). This union is poetically explained in the lines:

beds cheerfully

with the blonde onion, and to celebrate


the filial essence of the olive tree lets itself fall

over its gapping hemispheres, the pimento


its fragrance,

salt its magnetism-

The process of cooking aromatic salad mentioned in the poem indirectly speaks about the mixing of one culture with the other. The line “we have the day’s wedding” suggests the image of colonisation.

Of course, the salads bowl with its olive and pimentos also suggests a cheerful lending of Chilean and Spanish culture. In fact, the melting-pot culture of America has now been replaced by the concept of the salad bowl where all the colours can mix without any losing their original shape, form, individuality and identity.

Neruda races ahead to the meal that beckons with its aromas. There is immediacy when he writes, “it’s time! Let’s go!” there is celebration and joy in this meal. “the festival/or ardent colour/and all-embracing freshness”. It is a veritable joining of cultures, at least through the common denominator of food.

Spanish colonization over Chile can be characterized as pilgrim colonization, wherein the colonizers blend with the colonized and the division between the two societies is obscured. The conquistadors took it on themselves to be a piece of the foundation and not disparage the status of the colonized. They shared culture, dialect and wound up noticeably one with the occupants of their settlement. This is one reason why Neruda’s verse does not contain any contempt towards Spain. This is especially apparent in the words like “a goodly majesty”, “we have the day’s / wedding”. There is no threatening vibe towards the colonizers of any sort. Neruda considers himself to be an epitome of the Spanish culture, as “the writer of damaged human nobility who brings alive a landmass’ fate and dreams” According to Jaime Alazraki, “Neruda is not simply chronicling verifiable occasions but rather re-translating them with an unmistakable standpoint of history. He’s glancing back at American pre-history and analyzing the land’s rich, normal legacy”.

Postcolonial literature often focuses on the suppression, oppression, identity crisis, alienation, and cultural identity etc, faced by the natives of the colonised land. But the poems of Neruda present the theme of post colonialism in a different way, here though the atrocities of colonisers are portrayed he never hates them, instead celebrates the mingling of culture.

“The Way Spain Was” records the sufferings of people recorded in the history of Spain as a colony through many harsh images. The land blessed with nature’s bounty was destroyed in the civil war. He traces the history of Spain the present invaders were once invaded by many. Through many opposing images the horror of war and the plight of the affected people are portrayed effectively.

“Discoverers of Chile” brings out the pain of suppressed people under the rule of dictators. As a historian he discovers the past glory of the thin country and also its invaders. Silent sufferings of the native people and how they are compelled to merge culturally with the invaders are resented in this short poem in an emphatic manner.

In “The Heights of Macchu Picchu” though he describes the beauty of the landscape he is in search of the lost identity and the glorious past of the place. Now there is no man and he investigates where he has gone? The ruins found in the place give a hint to the colonial invasion.

In the poem “Ode to The Tomatoes” his love for the Spanish and Chilean collaboration is very much evident when he tells about the process of cooking salads. As he aromatically describes the mingling of different ingredients in the preparation of salad, his love for the mixed culture and the coloniser can be clearly seen.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: