Pablo Neruda

Banquet speech


Pablo Neruda’s speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1971


Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We come from far away, from that which is behind us and within us, from different languages, from countries that love one another. Here we are assembled in Stockholm, which this evening is the centre of the world. We have come from chemistry, from the microscopes, from cybernetics, from algebra, from the barometers, from poetry in order to be assembled here. We come from the darkness of our laboratories, to meet a light which honours us and, for the moment, dazzles us. For us, the laureates, it is a question both of a joy and a pain.

But before I render thanks and before I take breath I must gather myself, if you will pardon me, to take myself far from this place, to return to my country and once more to go wandering in the night and the dawn of my native land.

I return to the streets of my childhood, to the winters of South America, to the lilac gardens of Araucania, to the first girl I held in my arms, to the mud on the streets which knew no paving, to the Indians mourning-clad left to us by the Conquest, to a country, a dark continent seeking for the light. And if the beams from this festive hall cross land and sea to light up my past, they also light up the future of our American peoples, who are defending their right to dignity, to freedom and to life.

I am a representative of these times and of the present struggles which fill my poetry. You will pardon me if I have extended my gratitude to cover all those who belong to me, even to the forgotten ones of this earth who in this happy hour of my life appear to me more real than my own phrases, higher than my mountain chains, wider than the ocean. I am proud to belong to this great mass of humanity, not to the few but to the many, by whose invisible presence I am surrounded here today.

In the name of all these peoples and in my own name I thank the Swedish Academy for the honour which has been shown me today for my work as a poet. I also thank this country with the mighty forests and the deep snows, whose feeling for equality and whose love for peace, whose balance and generosity impress the world. I render my thanks and return to my work, to the blank page which every day awaits us poets so that we shall fill it with our blood and our darkness, for with blood and darkness poetry is written, poetry should be written.

From Les Prix Nobel en 1971, Editor Wilhelm Odelberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1972

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1971

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