Neruda’s The great urinator


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,



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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