Neruda once declared, “Nothing remains except that which was written with blood to be listened to by blood.” Neruda trusts and celebrates his senses and inextricably links his experiences, quite specifically, to the natural world he loves: to the damp forests of southern Chile; to the thick, gnarled roots of the pines deeply penetrating the earth; to the lonely rains that occluded the sun and cast the world through its fine veils; to the roiling rivers and seas that brought renewal and hope and, sometimes, destruction. For Neruda, this tightly woven web of nature symbolism became a grid through which he could begin to make sense of his life, to explore both the spiritual and physical worlds. For him, it was a continuous geography.
He spoke to the Chilean people of their mountains and trees, of their rivers and nocturnal flowers, of their dreams. Neruda held up a mirror in which Chileans could view themselves and be pleased. Reading Neruda, they could feel a common identity beyond their separate lives, landmarks, and scents they could call their own.
Several artistic and literary movements emerged that reflected the social and philosophical crises of the times: cubism, futurism, Dadaism, ultraism, creationism, modernism, and in the same year that Neruda published Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, the explosion of surrealism.
With their gorgeous sweep and intimacy, their sensuality and rhapsody, and their “secret revelations of nature,” Neruda’s poems also made me want to reclaim Spanish, the language of my teenage years. It is not an exaggeration to say that they helped me to discover who I was what I was meant to do. How I sang these poems aloud, again and again, in Spanish and in English, for the pure joy of hearing them on my tongue, for the imagery they conjured up and the longings they roused.
Neruda’s poetry challenged readers to less static lives, lives susceptible to transformation, like nature itself. He talks about Chilean earth, the country, more so in a subconscious state to illustrate to his countrymen the country’s beauty as opposed to the physical beauty of a woman. There is this raw sense of patriotism, natural, imperative and inherent. It shows the political climate at the time in Chile, whilst the people in Chile despise their government in comparison to the sense of darkness of the night. Neruda’s poetics are more indirect in showing the pain and they are whimsical and charming combined with melancholy.
Merwin’s translation evokes more the inclusive experience of an individual, more on a conscious level (of choices and of knowing), a man’s perception on his woman’s physical and spiritual beauty. His translation of Neruda’s poems is solemn and straightforward.
Below are four Spanish-English original translation comparison examples of Pablo Neruda’s poems, translated by W.S Merwin.
Antes de mí
Ven con un hombre
I am not jealous
Come with a man
come like a river
 I always understood before as a true temporal adverb but curiously there are other English translations appear to be “…facing you, I’m not jealous..”. I’m not saying that they are not consistent texts, only wonder about the accuracy of the temporary nature of the word before as the potential meaning for the poet.
CUERPO DE MUJER
Cuerpo de mujer, blancas colinas, muslos blancos,
te pareces al mundo en tu actitud de entrega.
Fui solo como un túnel. De mí huían los pájaros
Pero cae la hora de la venganza, y te amo.
Cuerpo de mujer mía, persistiré en tu gracia.
BODY OF A WOMAN
Body of a woman, white hills, white thighs,
you look like a world, lying in surrender.
I was alone like a tunnel. The birds fled from me,
But the hour of vengeance falls, and I love you.
Body of my woman, I will persist in your grace.
 Merwin’s translation is quite powerful and literary, compared to other popular versions that are more conscious-driven and literal in your attitude of giving.
 Here Merwin’s translation exceeds again over other popular translations by focusing on “… en mi…” hence, the night became an active role. The other popular translation would be “I was invaded by the power of the night.”
 Shifting road on top of boundless desire is complementing, much stronger than “my infinite anguish, my indecisive path…”even though this is less close as a translation version, it is closer to what Neruda meant originally.
INCLINADO EN LAS TARDES
Inclinado en las tardes tiro mis tristes redes
Allí se estira y arde en la mas alta hoguera
Hago rojas señales sobre tus ojos ausentes
Solo guardas tinieblas, hembra distante y mía,
Inclinado en las tardes echo mis tristes redes
Los pájaros nocturnos picotean las primeras estrellas
Galopa la noche en su yegua sombría
LEANING INTO THE AFTERNOONS
Leaning into the afternoons I cast my sad nets
There in the highest blaze my solitude lengthens and flames,
I send out red signals across your absent eyes
You keep only darkness, my distant female,
Leaning into the afternoons I fling my sad nets
The birds of night peck at the first stars
The night gallops on its shadowy mare
 Other popular translations use the word “over” to hinder “sobre” instead of “across.” It’s interesting to see the different perspective from Merwin’s translation, so the protagonist is sending red signals TO her instead of ABOVE her, which connects well to Neruda’s political inferences the next line.
 “Smell” would be a typical choice for “olean.” However, “move” is the more sensible option. This way, the protagonist becomes the sea or the people of Chile, and the lighthouse has transformed to be the government that needed enlightenment. Here, Merwin’s translation makes a big leap from personal yearnings to state-level affairs.
 The choice “its” for “su” instead of “her” does reinforce the political interpretative layer linking to .
ME GUSTAS CUANDO CALLAS
Me gustas cuando callas porque estas como ausente,
Como todas las cosas estan llenas de mi alma
Me gustas cuando callas y estas como distante.
Dejame que te hable tambien con tu silencio
Me gustas cuando callas porque estas como ausente.
I LIKE FOR YOU TO BE STILL
I like for you to be still: because it is as though you were absent, 
As all things are filled with my soul
I like for you to be still, and you seem far away.
And let me talk to you with your silence
I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
 A better translation for this line should be “I like you when you are quiet,” in the sense that stillness is not enough, quietness on both physical movement and speaking terms would be.
 Here I’d translate to “a butterfly in lullaby” for “mariposa en arrullo.”
 I’d like the word “clear” for “claro” here because of the narrator’s unblemished reasons, not in reference to the light intensity.