Song of Despair, by Pablo Neruda

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From The Complete Memoirs, which was published last month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

In recent days, attacks on my ideas and my poetry have multiplied. Within and outside of Chile, more than one professional Anti-Nerudist has appeared. As concerns my poetry, no debate is possible. It came from the damp woodlands of Temuco to sing like the rain on the roofs in Cautín. Let it defend itself with its song alone. If they beat it with a club, if they spit in its eyes, if they drag it through the filthy street by its hair—let it sing, and let the neighbors come out on their balconies to hear the voice of my song of rain and struggle, of people and plants, of salads and onions. I will never be seen taking to the streets or the broadsheets to defend my poetry. I will spare neither adjectives nor blows for whoever thinks me a bad, a dreadful, an unbearable poet. The carpenter doesn’t fight for his trusses, doesn’t write to the papers to proclaim the supremacy of his crossbeams or the grandiose style of the chair he’s woven out of bulrush. No one can fight morally for his nose or his feet, his teeth or his hair.

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