Five Decades: Poems, 1925-1970

ISBN: 0394178696
ISBN 13: 9780394178691
By: Ben Belitt

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Reader's Thoughts


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This is the best and most complete collection of Pablo Neruda poems--they are also in Spanish and English


My Spanish isn't great, but even I can tell this translation leaves something to be desired. Mr. Belitt seems often to use over-flowery language, losing something of the simple power of Neruda's language. Otherwise my review will wait until I finish the book.


Neruda writes some of the most erotic and wonderful love poems ever. If someone things poems can't be a turn on, they should read this man's work.


Beautiful. If you can read it in Spanish, you'll get so much more out of it - the translations are awful. One complaint - wish there were more love sonnets in this compilation. But its still some of the best poetry I've ever read.


I don't have good spanish, but the translations seemed to strip these poems of all their life. Maybe I'm just a dummie. I really enjoy other translations of Neruda much much more.

Amy Kitchell-Leighty



I love many of the earlier poems, although Belitt's painstaking precision often tends to muddle both the rhythm and the tone of the poems -- turning what were most likely beautifully wrought phrases into intellectual pastiche.


I think this was the best choice in getting a collection of Pablo Neruda's poems. The poems are in both Spanish and English. I feel sorry for those of you who don't understand Spanish because you're really missing out on something. The beauty is in the words, how they're said aloud. The Enlish versions don't do it any justice really.


Neruda has a way with words. After reading them all, I think the one about the Lemon will always be my favorite, but there are words that stir my soul in his poems and I loved them.


If I was sent to a desert island, this is the single book I would take with me to read for the rest of my life. Some of the English translations in this book are actually pretty horrible; read Selected Poems if you don't read Spanish. This one is a pretty comprehensive survey of my favorite poet of all time, hands down. He could be writing about the Spanish Civil War, the sea, United Fruit Company, the woman he loves, or a pair of socks-- everything is as if you never noticed it or saw it or comprehended it until you read his poetic interpretation of it. There are poems of his I would tattoo on my hand (if that weren't so painful and crazy) so I could always have them in front of me-- that's how good he is.


this book is on my shelf and I flip into it every once in a while and a read a new poem and they are very sexy and fantastic

Rene Spector Johnson

I just can't give this book a good review, I love Neruda and in truth, I should learn to read Spanish so that I can read his words and let them translate in my mind myself. That said, I agree with so many other reviewers, the translations are pretty bad. Why would anyone without a poet's tongue, try to translate Neruda? Its so bad that I think this book only deserves 2 stars. In addition, the translator uses the word "niggardly" in his preface. Now I know this was 1974, but the selection of his words, says a lot about him as a writer...and in my opinion, the word stingy would have sufficed.All that said, if you know Spanish fluently, I suppose this collection is wonderful.


Every poem is given in both Spanish and English translation, on facing pages. That said, the English translations seem to me a bit stilted and unnecessarily obscure. But I would recommend it to anyone who knows Spanish passably.


Okay, I didn't read all of this, but what I did read was pretty amazing: I found the level of energy in _Residence on Earth_ (the title given that collection, usually called _Here on Earth_ in this translation) and the way that images roll one after the other is pretty breathtaking. The love sonnets are great, as are many of the Odes I read here. A very solid book, and one that I suspect might be the product of a translator somehow outside the pale?

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