'Walking Around' by Pablo Neruda

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Neruda & Vallejo: Selected Poems1971It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and moviehouses
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarsesobs.
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the cold.I don't want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.I don't want so much misery.
I don't want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.That's why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward thenight.And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moisthouses,
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilicalcords.I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedicshops,
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"Walking Around" by Pablo Neruda: A Literary Criticism

Are you ready to embark on a journey through the vibrant and evocative words of Pablo Neruda? Hold your breath, for "Walking Around" is a masterpiece that will unravel your deepest emotions and thoughts.

Written in 1935, "Walking Around" is a reflection of Neruda's disillusionment with life, society, and the self. The poem is a manifestation of the poet's internal turmoil and his yearning for liberation. The poem is a journey through the mind of the poet, but it is also much more than that. It is an exploration of the human condition and the existential crisis that plagues us all.

Form and Structure

The poem consists of twenty-three stanzas, each with four lines, and follows a consistent ABBA rhyme scheme. The short stanzas are reminiscent of a diary entry or a stream of consciousness that captures the narrator's thoughts and feelings.

The repetitive structure of the poem emphasizes the monotony and routine of the narrator's life. The rhyme scheme, on the other hand, adds a musical quality to the poem, making it more poignant and memorable.


The theme of the poem can be summed up in one word – alienation. Neruda's protagonist is a man who has lost his connection to the world around him. He is disconnected from his emotions, his surroundings, and the people in his life.

Throughout the poem, the narrator walks through the streets of the city, but he is not truly present. He is lost in his own thoughts, his own pain, and his own despair. The city itself is a metaphor for the disconnection and isolation that the narrator feels. The streets are empty, the buildings are cold and lifeless, and the people are faceless and indifferent.

Imagery and Symbolism

Neruda's use of imagery and symbolism is what makes this poem truly remarkable. The city, for instance, is a powerful symbol that represents the narrator's disconnectedness. The buildings are described as "tall as cliffs," and the streets are "dead like stagnant water." The city is a cold, lifeless place where the narrator feels trapped and suffocated.

The use of color imagery is also noteworthy. The narrator sees "blue" and "yellow" and "red" everywhere, but these colors do not bring him joy or comfort. Instead, they remind him of the emptiness and futility of his existence.

Another powerful symbol in the poem is the rain. The rain is a recurring motif that represents the narrator's emotional turmoil. The rain is always present, either falling from the sky or collecting in puddles on the ground. The narrator is soaked through, and the rain becomes a physical manifestation of his emotional pain.

Language and Tone

Neruda's use of language is masterful. His words are vivid and evocative, painting a picture of a world that is both beautiful and bleak. The use of metaphors and similes adds depth and richness to the poem, while the repetition of certain phrases and images creates a sense of rhythm and musicality.

The tone of the poem is somber and melancholic, but there are moments of anger and frustration that burst through. The narrator's bitterness and disillusionment with the world are palpable, and this adds to the overall sense of despair that permeates the poem.


In conclusion, "Walking Around" is a powerful and haunting poem that captures the essence of human despair and alienation. Neruda's use of language, imagery, and symbolism creates a vivid portrait of a world that is both beautiful and bleak. The poem is a reflection of the human condition and the struggle that we all face to find meaning and purpose in our lives.

As you read this poem, you cannot help but be moved by the raw emotion and vulnerability that Neruda brings to the page. The poem is a call to action, a plea for us to wake up and reconnect with the world around us. It is a reminder that no matter how lost and alone we may feel, there is always hope for redemption and renewal.

So, walk with Neruda through the streets of the city, and let his words guide you on a journey of self-discovery and revelation. For in the end, it is only through confronting our deepest fears and insecurities that we can truly find peace and happiness in this world.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Walking Around: A Masterpiece by Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet, is known for his profound and evocative poetry that captures the essence of life and love. One of his most celebrated works is "Poetry Walking Around," a poem that speaks to the power of poetry and its ability to transform the world around us. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in this masterpiece.

The poem begins with the speaker describing poetry as a living entity, "Poetry, like bread, is for everyone." This opening line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as Neruda establishes the idea that poetry is not just for the elite or the educated, but for everyone. He goes on to describe how poetry is "an everyday affair, like waking up in the morning," emphasizing that poetry is a part of our daily lives, whether we realize it or not.

Neruda then uses vivid imagery to describe the power of poetry, "It is like the bird that flies everywhere, / like the water that runs through the countryside." Here, he compares poetry to natural elements that are essential to life, suggesting that poetry is just as necessary for our well-being. He also uses the metaphor of a bird to convey the idea that poetry is free and can travel anywhere, reaching people from all walks of life.

The poem then takes a more introspective turn, as the speaker reflects on the personal impact of poetry, "All that I lived through, / all that I suffered, / all that I loved, / all that I lost." Here, Neruda suggests that poetry is a means of processing and expressing our emotions, allowing us to make sense of our experiences. He goes on to describe how poetry can be a source of comfort and healing, "I carry poetry in my heart, / like a friend who never leaves me."

Neruda then shifts his focus to the role of poetry in society, "It is the song that unites all nations, / the anthem of the people." Here, he suggests that poetry has the power to bring people together, transcending cultural and national boundaries. He also emphasizes the importance of poetry in times of struggle and resistance, "It is the weapon against violence and oppression, / the shield against the darkness of despair." In this way, Neruda positions poetry as a tool for social change and a means of resisting injustice.

The poem concludes with a call to action, "Let us take the world in our hands / and make a new world together." Here, Neruda urges us to use poetry as a means of creating a better world, one that is more just and equitable. He suggests that poetry has the power to inspire us to action, to connect us with others, and to transform the world around us.

In terms of language, Neruda's use of metaphor and imagery is particularly striking. He compares poetry to natural elements such as bread, birds, and water, emphasizing its essential nature. He also uses the metaphor of poetry as a friend, suggesting that it is a constant companion that can provide comfort and support. Additionally, his use of repetition, such as the repeated phrase "like," creates a sense of rhythm and momentum, propelling the poem forward.

Overall, "Poetry Walking Around" is a powerful and evocative poem that speaks to the transformative power of poetry. Neruda's use of vivid imagery and metaphor creates a sense of immediacy and urgency, urging us to take action and use poetry as a means of creating a better world. This poem is a testament to Neruda's skill as a poet and his commitment to social justice, and it continues to inspire readers today.

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