The uses of poetry: Rebellion and the Praise of Murderers

JULY 9, 2005

I was struck by this comment of Charles Simic in a review of Pablo Neruda’s poems [NYR Sept 25 2003 p.43]: Rebellion may be one of poetry’s traditions, but so is eulogizing the goodwill and godlike wisdom of some murderer.

The context for this comment was Simic’s discussion of Neruda’s devout Communism which resulted in the penning of lines such as:

In three rooms of the old Kremlin
lives a man named Joseph Stalin
His bedroom light is turned off late.
The world and his country allow him no rest