The Islands and Rogovin
Pablo Neruda, Isla Negra, 1967
I did not know Milton Rogovin.
His Letter asked me an uncommon question. He wanted to photograph the truth. I suggested that he come to our Southernmost part, to the Archipeligo, to Quemchi, to Chonchi, to the sleepy shores of the South of the Americas.
He arrived quickly, well equipped and efficient: North American. He came loaded down with lenses and camera. He was too much for our simplicity. I recommended to him a good umbrella. He went ahead to the remote villages.
But he carried much more than his equipment. Patient eyes and searching. A heart sensitive to light, to rain, to the shadows.
Soon he returned and left us. He returned to Kansas, Oregon, and Mississippi. But this time he took along with him a bouquet of wonderful images; the portrait of the truth. Portrait of humble truth that is lost in the inclemency of the islands.
Walls of the humble home with their windows that open inwards, to the mythology, to the whispering, to the black clothes. Eyes, penetrating and dark with sparks buried, like forgotten embers in fireplaces where once fire had burnt so intensely.
Rogovin photographed the silence. Left intact in their mystery those insular depths of the islands which are revealed to us in simple objects, in crystalline poetry, as if the little village were living under the water with legendary belfries next to anchors of mythological vessels. The great photographer immersed himself in the poetry of simplicity and came to the surface with the net full of clear fish and flowers of profundity.
Because the earth is extremely unfaithful, it offers itself to the foreign eye and deceives our eye, our indifference, our ways.
Rogovin had come, photographer of the poor Negro, of the black liturgy, of the humiliated children of the North, so that he may uncover for us of the South, and so that he can take with him the truth of the South, with those dark eyes which looked at us and we did not see, with the poor pathetic and poetic poverty of the fatherland which we love and do not know.
Inspired by Milton's Photography: Poetry by Pablo Neruda
The rafters in Pablo Neruda's studio.
No los escribí en la techumbre por grandiosos, sino
Rojas Giménez, el trashumante, el nocturno,
traspasado por los adioses, muerto de alegría, palamero, loco de la sombra.
Joaquín Giminez, cuyos tercetos rodaban como
Piedras del rio.
Federico, que me hacía reir como nadie y que nos
enluto a todos por un siglo.
Paul Eluard, cuyos ojos color de nomeolvides me
Parece que siguen celestes y que guardan su fuerza azul bajo
Miguel Hernándes, silbándome a manera de ruisenor
Desde los arboles de la calle de la Princesa antes de que los
Presidios atraparan a mi ruisenor.
Nazim, aeda rumoroso, caballero valiente, companero.
Por que se fueron tan pronto? Cada uno de ellos fue una victoria.
Juntos fueron para mi toda la luz. Ahora, una pequena
Antolpgia de mis dolores.
I didn't write them on the roofbeams because they
were famous, but because they were companions
Rojas Giménez, the nomad, nocturnal, pierced with
the grief of farewells, dead with joy pigeon breeder, madman
of the shadows
Joaquín Cifruntes, whose verses rolled like stones in
Fredrico, who made me laugh like no on else could
and who put us all in mourning for a century.
Paul Eluard, whose forget-me-not color eyes are as sky
blue as always and retain their blue strength under the earth.
Miguel Hernándes, whistling to me like a nightingale
from the trees on Princesa Street until they caged my
Nazim, noisy bard, brave gentleman, friend.
Why did they leave so soon? Their names will not slip
down from the rafters. Each one of them was a victory.
Together they were the sum of my light. Now, a small
anthology of my sorrow.