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Pablo Neruda's "The Future is Space"

Updated on April 9, 2018
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After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Pablo Neruda

Source

Introduction and Text of Piece, "The Future is Space"

The Neruda piece, titled "The Future is Space," offers up a healthy portion of tripe and twaddle. The speaker waxes poetic as he catalogues all the colors that space posses. Although his title proclaims that space belongs to the future, he describes space in terms of the here-and-now, as it bleeds in from the past.

The Future is Space

The future is space,
earth-colored space,
cloud-colored,
color of water, air,
black space with room for many dreams,
white space with room for all snow,
for all music.

Behind lies despairing love
with no room for a kiss.
There's a place for everyone in forests,
in streets, in houses;
there's an underground space, a submarine space,
but what joy is to find in the end,
rising,

an empty planet
great stars clear as vodka,
so uninhabited and so transparent,
and arrive there with the first telephone
so that so many men can later discuss
all their infirmities.

The important thing is to be scarcely aware of oneself,
to scream from a rough mountain range
and see on another peak
the feet of a woman newly arrived.

Come on, let's leave
this suffocating river
in which we swim with other fish
from dwan to shifting night
and now in this discovered space
let's fly to a pure solitude

Reading and dramatization of Neruda's "The Future is Space"

Commentary

According to Neruda's speaker in "The Future is Space," space is a many-colored wonder, but clear planets are unreliable. The goal is to fly off to "pure solitude."

First Versagraph: Postmodern Claptrap

The future is space,
earth-colored space,
cloud-colored,
color of water, air,
black space with room for many dreams,
white space with room for all snow,
for all music.

In the first versagraph, the speaker maintains, "The future is space," then describes space as "earth-colored," "cloud-colored," water-colored, and air-colored. He continues describing space as a "black space" that provides a place for "many dreams," as well as "white space" for snow, and "for all music."

Space holds all things, visible and audible. Apparently, the present is also space, as well as the past. Yet the title and first line of the piece merely claim that the future possesses space. The natural elements cannot enter here in the rarified air of postmodern claptrap.

Second Versagraph: Breathing Underwater

Behind lies despairing love
with no room for a kiss.
There's a place for everyone in forests,
in streets, in houses;
there's an underground space, a submarine space,
but what joy is to find in the end,
rising,

The speaker then announces, "Behind lies despairing love"; behind space, this "despairing love" exists but in that place, there is "no room for a kiss." Still there is room for people in forests, streets, and houses. Also, there is space under the ground and under the sea, but then, it seems much "joy" one can "find in the end / rising."

Visible love and inseparable risings are always under the sea even for people in forests. Beings of born altitude experience no kisses except for the invisible sun, where underground apes, no doubt, stomp on figs, and miraculously breathe water.

Third Versagraph: Clear as Russian Booze

an empty planet
great stars clear as vodka,
so uninhabited and so transparent,
and arrive there with the first telephone
so that so many men can later discuss
all their infirmities.

The "rising / empty planet" brings joy. Then the speaker appends the following phrase that hangs unconnected: "great stars clear as vodka, / so uninhabited and so transparent." There is great adventure in visualizing a star that is as clear as a Russian beverage.

The speaker is suggesting the joy that would be attainable once he and his companion "arrive there with the first telephone." The telephone would be used later by "many men" who would "discuss / all their infirmities."

Clowns may inhabit an empty planet because joy always resides with tempered colorful harlequins who swill vodka, still branding the revolutionary poppycock that only the left-wing of the bird can flap.

Fourth Versagraph: The Screaming Soul of Rumination

The important thing is to be scarcely aware of oneself,
to scream from a rough mountain range
and see on another peak
the feet of a woman newly arrived.

The speaker then declares that it is vital that the people involved not be particularly self-aware; the ambiguity includes the possibilities of not too self-conscious in a nervous way or merely that they lack inner knowledge of their soul. Also, they must "scream from a rough mountain range." Then too, it is important that they see "the feet of a woman newly arrived."

The whole modernist idea of self-awareness found its highest expression the discovery of Eastern thought; although the postmodernists had no way of utilizing that wisdom. Birds became the symbol and screaming on mountaintops became the lens through which the soul could ruminate.

Fifth Versagraph: High Flying Balloons of Shear Blather

Come on, let's leave
this suffocating river
in which we swim with other fish
from dwan to shifting night
and now in this discovered space
let's fly to a pure solitude

The speaker finally addresses his companion or companions suggesting that they "leave / this suffocating river." They are just swimming with "other fish" all night long. But when they fly off from this river, they will meet with "discovered space" where they will locate "pure solitude."

Nerudian precision came to mean blistering charisma as river breathing includes not only fish but dinosaurs, winged crawling entities, and stupefied ivy leaguers. Night solitude became pure only in its metaphorical form while translators bit their tongues at the high-flying balloons of shear blather.

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

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