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  HOME | Chile

Fake Pablo Neruda Poem Spreads on Internet

By Ana Mendoza

MADRID -- The poem "Muere lentamente" (Dying Slowly), mistakenly attributed to Pablo Neruda, has been circulating for years on the Internet with no one able to stop it from snowballing, to the point that many in Spain have received the verses online as a New Year's greeting.

The poem has been widely circulated on the Web by those looking to please or provide inspiration for 2009. The problem is that the Chilean poet never wrote it, the Pablo Neruda Foundation told Efe.

That verse and others have been circulating on the Web for some time now and "we don't know who attributed them to Neruda, but the Neruda buffs we have consulted know nothing about them," foundation librarian Adriana Valenzuela said.

But "Muere Lentamente" is not the only "fake Neruda" that cybernauts are coming across. Valenzuela said that the author of "Canto General" (Lyrics in General) is also said to have written the poems "Queda Prohibido" (It's Forbidden), whose real author is apparently the Spanish writer and jounalist Alfredo Cuervo, and "Nunca Te Quejes" (Never Complain), whose creator is unknown.

This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, as Fernando Saez, executive director of the foundation, told Efe, that someone "attributes to a famous poet things he never wrote and whose real author is unknown. It happened with a well-known text attributed to Borges about life's wonders, which not even at his most ironic would he have endured and even less, have written."

But however notorious the case of the supposed Borges poem "Instantes" that Maria Kodama, the writer's widow, says is by American author Nadine Stair, even more famous was the apocryphal work attributed to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "La Marioneta" (The Puppet), with which the Colombian Nobel laureate for literature was supposed to have bid his friends goodbye after learning that he had cancer.

"What can kill me is the shame that some people actually believe I could have written something so vulgar," Garcia Marquez said.

"Muere Lentamente" is the work of Brazilian writer Martha Medeiros, author of numerous books and reporter for the Porto Alegre newspaper Zero Hora, the Neruda Foundation told Efe.

Tired of people believing that the Chilean poet wrote the poem, she got in touch with the Neruda Foundation to establish her own authorship, giving as evidence how largely the verses coincide with her work in Portuguese "A Morte Devagar" (To Death Slowly), published in the year 2000 on All Souls Day eve.

In a statement to Efe, Medeiros admits she has no idea how the poem began circulating on the Internet, although it doesn't surprise her since many of her verses are on the Web "as if they were by other authors. Unfortunately, nothing can be done about it," she said.

The 47-year-old Brazilian poet and novelist deeply admires Neruda and says she is a fan of his poems, but prefers that "everybody's work be recognized." She loses no sleep over such matters, however, and said that she has "enough of a sense of humor to laugh at all this."

The foundation agrees with Medeiros that little can be done to stop the false attribution from snowballing on the Web, because if one googles "Muere Lentamente" associated with Neruda, 19,100 links appear.


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