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

Updated on October 6, 2017
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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


Introduction: "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.

First Movement: "To be men! That is the Stalinist law!"

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: "Stalin is the noon"

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 speaks to "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: "The light has not vanished"

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: "In recent years the dove"

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: "A wave beats against the stones of the shore"

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: Poetaster Extraordinaire

Pablo Neruda's writings should be assigned to the dustbin of literature and history. And his poetastric scribblings would have faded into oblivion had they not been hoisted to their present elevation by the left-wing noise conglomeration 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 accomplishments.

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.

Pablo Neruda and Josef Stalin

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes


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