Pablo Neruda, 50 years of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Bent over in the evenings, the poet threw his sad nets into the oceanic eyes of the immobile beloved. He especially liked it when he was absent. She was Albertina Rosa Azócar, the dark and agile girl, the delirious youth of the bee, the intoxication of the wave, the strength of the spike, the loose and thin voice, sweet and definitive, like the wheat field and the sun, the poppy and Water.

Pablo Neruda listens to the immense night, more immense without her and laments the love that breaks between his hands. From another, it will be from another. As before my kisses. Her voice, her clear body, her infinite eyes. Love is so short and oblivion is so long. I greeted Albertina at her flower shop in Santiago when she was in her 80s. I fully share the judgment of Gabriel García Márquez: “Pablo Neruda is the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.”

Directed by Manuel Mateos, I participated for the first and last time in my life as an actor in a movie, Neruda in Valparaíso, in which Pablo’s gatherings were recreated in Isla Negra, in that library scented with seashells, harassed by the prow spurs of centuries-old ships, illuminated by Matilde Urrutia and lit by verses and veiled memories of Delia del Carril, the Ant of all the nostalgia. Sara Vial was the author of the script for that film that achieved success on television in Chile and Spain. I remember her with special feeling.

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Sara Vial was a very intelligent woman and an inspired poet. As a young woman, beauty stood out in her and since 1955 her friendship with Pablo Neruda. I remember wanting to organize a great celebration of the Nobel Prize in Literature in Santiago, fifty years after the author of A desperate song. The illness ended with her, but I have not forgotten her wish for the great tribute to Neruda.

Álvaro Inostroza, a highly prestigious journalist, notable poet, interviewed Sara Vial and published in El Mercurio de Valparaíso an article about the poet’s projects in which Sara Vial states: “In 1955 I met Neruda, who prefaced my first book of poetry and introduced me to Gonzalo Losada, director of the Editorial of the same name, and Luis María Anson, director of the newspaper ABC in Madrid, who traveled especially to Valparaíso to participate in the film and who was a great friend of Neruda, whom he met in Isla Negra in 1964 ”.

Manuel Mateos died relatively young. He was a moderate socialist, a cultured and intelligent man, a prestigious film director, an admirer of Pablo Neruda. He paid daily homage to his poetry, which he recited in imitation of the phonetic cadence of its author. I had a brief friendship with him in time, deep in the cultural space. The voice of Manuel Mateos still caresses my ears in “Friend, don’t die”: “I am the one who awaits you in the starry night, on the golden beaches, on the blonde ages. The one who cut hyacinths for your bed, and roses, lying among the grasses, I am the one who is waiting for you ”.

There, in “La Sebastiana”, Pablo’s house in Valparaíso, I also had long conversations with Sara Vial, who discovered unknown aspects of the human dimension of Pablo Neruda, a man of integrity and goodness, who, when he felt himself dying said goodbye to his great love, Matilde Urrutia, my friend, my unforgettable friend. “Let us row the ancient ashes of the burned heart and there our kisses fall one by one until the uninhabited flower resuscitates.”

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Pablo Neruda, 50 years of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Hank Gilbert