The Heights of Macchu Picchu

by NeftalĂ­ Ricardo Reyes Basoalto

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

"The Heights of Macchu Picchu" is a set of 12 poems by Pablo Neruda where the narrator explores the city of Macchu Picchu and reflects on the people who came before him to build it and live there. It discusses life, death, resurrection, nature, and humanity. There are few characters in the poem and none are named.

The unnamed narrator is the most important character in the poem. He writes about visiting Macchu Picchu and thinks about the things he sees there. He thinks about how society loses something in its daily routines and how nature is the only thing that lasts in the long run. When he visits the abandoned city, he thinks about the builders and laborers and how they live on through their work.

The narrator has an appreciation for nature that shows through when he talks about how it's the only thing that lasts. He sees the structures of Macchu Picchu as an example of something that lasts long after the builders have died. By the end of the poem, he encourages people to rise up and live through his words and actions even though they might be long gone.

The only other characters in the poem are the people who died in Macchu Picchu. They're never named, but he invokes them and their memory. He speaks specifically to the builders, the artisans, and the people who made the city. He never goes into detail about a specific person or talks about their specific lives, however.

At times, the narrator also addresses Macchu Picchu as "you," but it doesn't qualify as a character in the strictest sense even though he treats it like one at times.

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