Pablo Neruda

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What images does Neruda use in Hunter in the Forest?

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The imagery that is used by Pablo Neruda in his poem "Hunter in the Forest" is rich and very descriptive, as it illustrates a man that is caught in the depths of a very thick forest, which represents our  individual and existential nature.

The hunter, who represents the reader or even Neruda himself, walks into the forest and focuses on the roots of the forest, itself. These roots hold him down, while a great, green leaf, as wide as a map, asks him who he is, while he does not respond.

De dónde vienes?, me pregunta
una hoja verde y ancha como un mapa.

Within this deep forest, the hunter's boots seem to sink down as if the plants and forest life try to absorb him back into nature. This is very significant because that is the main idea of the poem itself: Our interconnection with nature is necessary for each other's existence.

The hunter says that the forest will not speak until he becomes a dead and live matter which is basically a way of stating that we all return to nature after our deaths and that is when we (he) will realize who he is in the greater scheme of things.

Whatever dies, it gathers in/ like an ancient, hungry creature.

Nature is shown as a machine that consistently takes in whatever no longer lives, and then gives it a life of its own, by placing matter into use, the way one day we will resurrect as a basic element of nature.

el agua, la ceniza, the water, the ashes
todo se une al rocío, come together in the dew
a la negra llovizna and the black rains
de la selva. of the jungle

Perhaps the most poignant verse is at the end, when the hunter gives life a powerful role by pointing out the mystery that surrounds not only life, itself, but the creation of life.

Dark is the work/ that makes the stars green.

This last verse means that whatever brings things to life may be mysterious but it has the capability of making stars "green", in other words, it can give stars the capability of life. Our very own star, the sun, is what makes life possible. In Neruda's style, the "green" of the stars (which are actually suns), represents nature and what, ultimately, brings everything to existence.

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The fourth part of Neruda’s autobiographical “Isla Negra: A Notebook”, “The Hunter in the Forest” describes the Neruda’s return to the forests he enjoyed when he was young. There are many images of roots, both the literal ones of trees, and roots as a metaphor for connection with the land. The image of the sunshine decaying into fertile flour that nourishes the forest is also important. The most important image is that of the forest itself, like an “ancient hungry creature” that absorbs the decaying and dying and transforms them in its infinite fertility into new life. Thus the forest imagery is one of an infinite cycle of death and renewal.

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