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Could you please give me a summary of "Ars Poetica" by Pablo Neruda?

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ritambhara66 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 11, 2011 at 8:38 PM via web

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Could you please give me a summary of "Ars Poetica" by Pablo Neruda?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 12, 2011 at 10:17 AM (Answer #1)

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In "Ars Poetica" by Pablo Neruda, Neruda compares the process of writing a poem to the process by which a carpenter fashions wood, a baker bakes bread, and a blacksmith forges metal.  He starts off with the art of carpentry, and goes into detail describing how a carpenter picks his wood, decides what to do with it, then fashions it the way that he wants it.  It is a metaphor for writing poems however, and Neruda compares shaving the wood to writing:  "from the plank come my verses/like chips freed from the block."

The next comparison is to being a baker; just like the carpenter (and the poet), the baker must select their materials and create beautiful things from them.  He describes how he takes his words and " wade[s] in, to my elbows,/kneading the glow of the oven" as he creates his words.  He then goes on to compare writing poetry to being a blacksmith who is "a lone iron-monger."

The point of his comparisons is that the hard work of a carpenter, baker or blacksmith is no different than the hard work of a poet.  Each uses their skills, materials and ingenuity to create beauty.  He goes on to say that he doesn't limit the materials he uses for poems; he is constantly "digging for new metals and turning what I am into words."  He addresses people that might criticize how or what he uses for poems, and says that he does what he has found to be true to him, without thought of its reception.

I hope that those thoughts help to get you started; good luck!

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