The Sea and the Bells

Pablo Neruda, William O’Daly, trans.

A complete English translation of Pablo Neruda’s El mar y las campanas (The Sea and the Bells) appears in a bilingual edition by noted Neruda translator William O’Daly. Sea salt, foam, ocean waves, the sound of bells carrying over the water, his love for his wife Matilde, the migratory birds and winter rain of southern Chile, the birth in gunfire of his country, the destiny of the Chilean people—all of these passions helped guide Neruda’s “flight of spirit” as he composed The Sea and the Bells, pulling “one dream out of another.” Longing to retreat from the noisy busyness surrounding him, the Nobel poet permits the rush of waves to carry him into meditative states. These poems, found on the poet’s desk at the time of his death, include his final poem—a love song to his wife, Matilde. Facing imminent death, he remarks in the past tense: “It was beautiful to live / When you lived!”
Una traducción completa de
El mar y las campanas de Pablo Neruda aparece en esta edición bilingüe por el traductor notable, William O’Daly. La sal de mar, la espuma, las olas, el sonido de las campanas llevando a través del agua, su amor por su mujer Matilde, los pájaros migratorios y la lluvia del invierno del sur de Chile, el nacimiento de su país por disparos, el destino de la gente chilena—todas estas pasiones ayudaron a guiar al “vuelo de espíritu” de Neruda cuando él escribió El mar y las campanas. Con el deseo de retirarse de la actividad ruidosa de sus alrededores, el poeta del premio Nobel permite que la avalancha de olas llevarle a estados meditativos. Estos poemas, encontrados en su escritorio a la hora de su muerte, incluye su poema final, una canción de amor a su mujer, Matilde. Frente a la muerte inminente, él comenta: “Fue tan bello vivir / cuando vivías!”

ISBN: 9781556591624

Format: Paperback

Every Day, Mathilde

Today, I dedicate this to you: you are long
like the body of Chile, delicate
like an anise flower,
and in every branch you bear witness
to our indelible springtimes:
What day is today? Your day.
And tomorrow is yesterday, it has not passed,
the day never slipped from your hands:
you guard the sun, the earth, the violets
in your slender shadow when you sleep.
And in this way, every morning
you give me life.

About the Author

Pablo Neruda was born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Parral, Chile, in 1904. He served as consul in Burma (Myanmar) and held diplomatic posts in various East Asian and European countries. In 1945, a few years after he joined the Communist Party, Neruda was elected to the Chilean Senate. Shortly thereafter, when Chile’s political climate took a sudden turn to the right, Neruda fled to Mexico and lived as an exile for several years. He later established a permanent home …

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About the Translator

William O’Daly has translated eight books of the late-career and posthumous poetry of Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda and most recently Neruda’s first volume, Book of Twilight—a finalist for the 2018 Northern California Book Award in Translation—all published by Copper Canyon Press. O’Daly’s chapbooks of poems include The Whale in the Web, also published by Copper Canyon, The Road to Isla Negra, Water Ways (a collaboration with JS Graustein), and Yarrow and Smoke, the latter three published by Folded Word …

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“In this bilingual collection, the late Nobel Laureate establishes immediate intimacy with poems that are at once deeply personal, expansive and universal. Neruda does not embellish but keeps the purity of his emotions intact, lending the verses majestic and understated beauty. The spareness of the language allows greater access to the feeling—Neruda hides nothing.” —Publishers Weekly

“One of Neruda’s most accessible books… The author investigates his ties to Chile—its people, landscapes, and shores—with language that is simple, not simplistic; with themes that are personal, not obscure… Celebratory, optimistic, joyful, this is not a summary but an introduction to a heretofore unseen Neruda… Highly recommended.” —Booklist

“O’Daly’s introduction provides useful comments on the style and language found in these poems, which show that he is an excellent translator as well as a gifted critic.”—Choice

“These poems are… haunting and often darkly humorous.” —Library Journal

“This volume is highly recommended for anyone who wishes to experience one of the finest works of the Chilean Nobel laureate.” —Small Press

“… a beautifully produced bilingual edition… featuring the wonderfully mischievous and passionate poet… at the peak of his powers.” —Daily Hampshire Gazette

“O’Daly puts together the intricacies of time through words as carefully as a watchmaker, so words will endure through time.” —Elliott Bay Booknotes

“This bilingual edition in Spanish/English is a remarkable edition; Neruda achieves a lyrical simplicity that stuns the reader.” —Small Press Review