LITERATURE: Neruda’s Ode to an Aged Poet – Line breaks

Loved this passage from this poem:

and hand in hand
they would make
their way to
a decaying resting place
where they would sleep
as every man
of us
will sleep:
a dry
that will also
crumble into dust.
   (p. 365)

Part of the problem with Elizabeth Alexander's inaugural poem for me was in the delivery (though I have read a copy of it online with the proper breaks and not liked it much better).  As I see from Neruda's style, line breaks are vital in the impact and meaning of a poem. The emphasis and the pacing of a poem as well as the tone are borne of the breaks almost as much as of the words themselves. What Neruda is speaking of here is death and the image of a man and woman laying down to sleep, the hand and rose crumbling into dust all serve to soften the trauma of death, yet the lines made up of one or two words help just as much by their insistence on a slow beat of reading.

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