Neruda’s The great urinator

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Pablo Neruda, From Selected Failings (Defectos Escogidos) 1972-1973

The Great Urinator (El Gran Orinador)

The great urinator was yellow
and the stream that came down
was bronze-colored rain
on the domes of churches,
on the roofs of cars,
on factories and cemeteries,
on the populace and their gardens.

Who was it, where was it?

It was a density, thick liquid
falling as from
a horse, and frightened passersby
with no umbrellas
looked up skyward,
meanwhile avenues were flooding
and urine inexhaustibly flowing
underneath doors,
backing up drains, disintegrating
marble floors, carpets,
staircases.

Nothing could be detected. Where

was this peril?

 

What was going to happen to the world?

From on high the great urinator
was silent and urinated.

What does this signify?

I am a pale and artless poet
not here to work out riddles
or recommend special umbrellas.

Hasta la vista! I greet you and go off

to a country where they won’t ask me questions.

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