“I render my thanks and return to my work, to the blank page which every day awaits us poets so that we shall fill it with our blood and our darkness, for with blood and darkness poetry is written, poetry should be written.”
Imagine hearing those words at the conclusion of a brief speech by a laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature at an extravagant banquet.
Pablo Neruda, who died on September 23, 1973, was a poet and diplomat from Chile who, in 1971, received this prize.
Here is an excerpt from his acceptance speech:
From all this, my friends, there arises an insight which the poet must learn through other people. There is no insurmountable solitude. All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song – but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny.
Pablo Neruda wrote thousands and thousands of pages and so, when he was being honoured for his tremendous contributions over a lifetime just a couple years before his death, it is worth paying attention to what he thought to include in this particular speech.
There is something eminently attractive and resonant and persuasive about how he speaks of “solitude and difficulty.” And yet, how little are we attracted to these elements in our own lives and how seldom persuaded about their meaning for us and for others.
Can we believe that our clumsy dancing and sorrowful singing will bring us to fulfillment?
Perhaps our solitude really would be insurmountable if we mistakenly thought we could altogether refuse to ever dance clumsily or to sing sorrowfully.
Yet, Neruda’s insight is that it “our blood and our darkness” that enables us to conquer our solitude.
Paradoxically, the deeper the darkness of difficulty, the profounder the communion in common condition.