I Explain A Few Things by Pablo Neruda
- Write down your first impressions. What thoughts or images come to mind? What words or phrases stand out? Do you make any word associations-do other words come to mind that aren’t in the poem? Do you feel connected to the poem? If yes, what is the connection about? If no, where is the disconnect for you?
When I first read the poem “I explain a few things” by Pablo Neruda, I felt terrified. The last stanza stood out, making me connect the poem with an image of a real battleground. The words “come and see the blood in the streets” and their repetition in the poem’s last stanza made me relate to the entire poem and its meaning.
- Focus on the mood that you feel in the poem. Write down the mood words that fit for you.
The narrator of the poem is both regretful and resentful. He tells of the past with so much longing and the present with dread. The narrator says, “And one morning all that was burning,” some alarming sense of vengeance and bitterness. The bitterness and vengefulness communicated by the poem fit any human experiencing loss and distress. Look up any words you need to define, and write the definitions here:
Lilacs: A lilac is a small tree or shrub of the olive family with violet, white or pink blossom.
Poppy-petalled metaphysics: Poppy-petalled metaphysics refers to beautiful and appealing philosophies of life’s basics such as identity, time, and being.
Spattering: spattering refers to the act of covering something with drops or splashing a liquid over a surface.
- Look at the structure of the poem. What do you notice about its shape? How would you describe its shape, the line breaks, the length of the line, the length of the stanzas? Is this a structure you recognize? What do you think the structure says about this poem?
The poem, just like “waiting for the barbarians,” applies free verse poetry structure. It does not have a specified line and stanza length. The second paragraph, in which the narrator relates the past shape of his home, is relatively long compared to the others. The free poem structure helps the poet emphasize specific themes. The structure tells that the poet was specific about communicating what has been lost due to war.
- “What are the images in this poem? Write these down, and note your thoughts about them. Are there any symbols? In other words, are there any objects or animals that the poet seems to be translating the qualities from to something else? Note any objects or images that have conventional significance.
“I will explain a few things”
is a metaphoric piece of art full of imagery. The lilacs, poppy metaphysics, and spattering rain are images of a lively community full of hope. The bells, clocks, and trees are further imagery of optimism as related by the narration in the third stanza.