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.

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.