Pablo Neruda's "To be men! That is the Stalinist law!"

Updated on May 22, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Pablo Neruda

Source

Introduction and Text of "To be men! That is the Stalinist law!"

Pablo Neruda's "To be men! That is the Stalinist law!" is a piece seldom found in anthologies, especially those translated into English. He wrote this poem in 1953 upon the death of Joseph Stalin, Neruda's hero. The work is twenty lines long, which separates into uneven movements.

To be men! That is the Stalinist law! . . .
We must learn from Stalin
his sincere intensity
his concrete clarity. . . .
Stalin is the noon,
the maturity of man and the peoples.
Stalinists, Let us bear this title with pride. . . .
Stalinist workers, clerks, women take care of this day!
The light has not vanished.
The fire has not disappeared,
There is only the growth of
Light, bread, fire and hope
In Stalin’s invincible time! . . .
In recent years the dove,
Peace, the wandering persecuted rose,
Found herself on his shoulders
And Stalin, the giant,
Carried her at the heights of his forehead. . . .
A wave beats against the stones of the shore.
But Malenkov will continue his work.

Commentary

As the title signals, this verse is a piece of pathetic propagandistic drivel.

First Movement: Screw Up Your Intensity and Follow a Dictator

To be men! That is the Stalinist law! . . .
We must learn from Stalin
his sincere intensity
his concrete clarity. . . .

In the first movement, the speaker declares, "To be men! That is the stalinist law!" The speaker is exhorting his listeners to follow the great leader Stalin. The speaker then continues by telling them that they all must "learn from Stalin." The great leader is full of "sincere intensity" and "concrete clarity."

Second Movement: Great Leader, Dear Leader

Stalin is the noon,
the maturity of man and the peoples.
Stalinists, Let us bear this title with pride. . . .
Stalinist workers, clerks, women take care of this day!

Then the speaker metaphorically compares Stalin to "noon," the time of day when the sun stands overhead at its highest. He is implying that Stalin is the highest authority because he is "the maturity of man and the peoples."

This leader has the wisdom of age far above all other men and "the peoples." The speaker then exhorts his listeners again, calling them "Stalinists," saying, "let us bear this title with pride." He encourages the Stalinists to burst with pride that they are part of the great leader's movement. The speaker exhorts "Stalinist workers, clerks, women" pressing them to "take care of this day!" He wants the Stalinists to preserve the rich political climate provided by their great leader.

Third Movement: Propagandistic Melodrama

The light has not vanished.
The fire has not disappeared,
There is only the growth of
Light, bread, fire and hope
In Stalin’s invincible time! . . .

The speaker waxes ultra-melodramatic, describing the magnificent atmosphere and just general good times brought in by leader Stalin.

The speaker reports that life is bright and warm. The "invincible" leader has ushered in a tremendous period of growth: "There is only the growth of / Light, bread, fire and hope." Everyone will be fed and clothed; everyone will be happy and filled with hope for every coming tomorrow.

Fourth Movement: Peace, Compassion, Wisdom

In recent years the dove,
Peace, the wandering persecuted rose,
Found herself on his shoulders
And Stalin, the giant,
Carried her at the heights of his forehead. . . .

In the fourth Movement, the speaker employs the symbol of peace, "the dove," reporting that the once "persecuted" bird has now "found herself on his shoulders." Now the "giant" of compassion, wisdom, and all godly things has lifted peace to the "heights of his forehead."

Fifth Movement: Continuing What the Great Man Started

A wave beats against the stones of the shore.
But Malenkov will continue his work.

The final movement consists of only two lines: "A wave beats against the stones of the shore. / But Malenkov will continue his work." In these two lines, the speaker using the fact of sea life, implies that there are those who would dispute the great victor's magnanimity, and even though he has shuffled off the mortal coil, the trusty leader Georgy Malenkov will replace him and continue what the great one has started.

Pablo Neruda: Tangled Up in Lies

Pablo Neruda's writings should be assigned to the dustbin of history. And his poetastric scribblings would have faded into oblivion had they not been hoisted to their present elevation by the left-wing noise machine that virtually controls the art scene in the United States and Europe.

Neruda deserves the Nobel Laureateship as much as does the feckless, prevaricator Barack Obama. That prize has become irrelevant, having lost its prestige by nominating time and again individuals without accomplishment.

According to Octavio Paz, Marxists poets of the early 20th century became "entangled in a mesh of lies, falsehoods, deceits and perjuries, until they lost their souls." This description accurately applies to Pablo Neruda, whose hero, Joseph Stalin, is credited with the deaths of upwards of 60 million people.

Sources

Pablo Neruda and Josef Stalin

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

    Comments

    Submit a Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)