Isla Negra

Bell tower at Isla Negra overlooking the sea, with the boat which never sailed
Bell tower at Isla Negra overlooking the sea, with the boat which never sailed

Pastor, pastor, no sabes

que te esperan?

Lo se, lo se pero aqui junto al agua

mientras crepitan y arden las cigarras

aunque me esperen yo quiero esperarme,yo también quiero verme,

quiero saber al fin como me siento,

y cuanda llegue donde yo me espero

voy a dormirme muerto de la risa.

Shepherd, shepherd, don’t you know

they all all waiting for you?

I know, I know, but here beside the water

while the locusts chitter and sparkle,

although they are waiting, I want to wait for myself.

I too want to watch myself.

I want to discover at last my own feelings.

And when I reach the place where I am waiting,

I expect to fall asleep, dying of laughter.

Pablo Neruda (from Pastoral), translated by Alastair Reid

Our journey from Valparaiso yesterday took us first to Isla Negra, one of the homes of Pablo Neuda. Neruda (1904-73) is one of Chile’s great figures of the C20, as a poet and political activist. Neruda was an magpie and collector all his life; he collected objects, wives and houses and there are three Neruda houses open to the public in Santiago, Valparaiso and Isla Negra. We have only seen Isal Negra but are told it is the most interesting as it best showcases his collecting bug.

The house is sat on a high position overlooking the Pacific about 2 hours south of Valparaiso. It was bought as a small cottage and extended incrementally as Neruda’s imagination and colection required. As such it has little structure as piece of architecture but as a series of rooms highlights Neruda’s creative instincts; his desire to recreate the sense of being in a ship, though he wasn’t a sailer, of being in a railway carriage (his father worked on the railways) and his strong desire to keep a sense of his childhood and childish pleasures alive.

It is an interesting place to visit.

The courtyard of Isla Negra
The courtyard of Isla Negra
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