How large was the black octopus?


How large was the black octopus
That darkened the day’s peace?

Were its branches made of iron
And its eyes, of dead fire?

And why did the tricolored whale
Cut me off on the road?

Chilean poet and communist politician Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalt, published this poem in The Book of Questions (translated by William O’Daly) under the penname Pablo Neruda. In 1971, Neruda was awarded the Nobel Prize, despite many of the committee members opposition to Neruda’s previous praise of Stalinist dictatorship.

The illustration (black cut-out over hand-painted paper) is from Kristen Scribner from the Animal ABC Book.