Sunbonnet Sue recites Pablo Neruda’s poetry in Chile

Sunbonnet Sue visits Chile and recites Pablo Neruda's poetry

Sunbonnet Sue visits Chile and recites Pablo Neruda’s poetry

So here we are again, this time with Sunny Sue visiting the shores of Chile.  The indigenous groups of Chile include the colorful and interesting Mapuche and Aymara, but the folk culture of Chile is really about Spain, especially the huaso culture that surrounds cattle ranching (think vaqueros in Argentina).  Although Spanish traditions, especially Andalusian (especially in costume, music, and dance) and Castilian, have made the most impact on Chile’s folk culture, it’s important to note that Chile also has a substantial German, Austrian, Italian, Irish, French, British, and other European community, traditions, and influence. As you can see, Sunbonnet Sue’s lovely aproned outfit reflects European folk costume traditions.  She’s a true vision in floral purple and looks ready to dance, except she’s lugging around a mysterious moai statue from Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island.  That’s weighing her down some….

The moai figures, head-and-torso figures carved out of stones, average about 13 feet tall and weigh around 14 tons.  Don’t we wish these statues could talk?  We could ask them why their creators went to the time and (what must have been crazy) effort to transporting these 900 or so giant figures to various locations on Easter Island.  Archaeologists believe the moai were created to honor ancestors or chiefs, but it is truly unknowable as there exists no oral or written history of the island.  Or we could ask how the Rapa Nui Polynesian peoples even ended up on the island —  Easter Island is located 2300 miles west of South America and 1100 miles from the nearest island.  That’s pretty isolated, so we can imagine the tale of arriving there is pretty harrowing in and of itself.  I can only marvel at the ingenuity and determination (and possibly pure luck) of these intrepid Polynesian explorers.

Santiago itself is a wonderful city, where any visitor can enjoy, to an amazing extent, European treasures like British high tea, French casseroles and coffee, German cakes and sausage, and Italian pasta.  These European influences can also be seen in the city’s architecture which shows its Germanic and Spanish influence.  Happily for those who quilt, there is also a wonderful quilt shop in Santiago — check out its website,  The shop imports cottons from Brazil and the U.S.   Actually, it’s quite amazing how difficult it is to find quality quilting cottons outside of the U.S. — for those quilters who remember the 70’s and 80’s in the U.S., the quilting cotton market must have been similar.   It’s truly hard to imagine that in the context of today’s booming quilting industry which abounds with high quality cottons in any print and color you can imagine, and I think it truly takes some extra creativity to make art out of such limited resources.

However, what struck me about my visit to Santiago, Chile, and its whereabouts were the number of houses involving Pablo Neruda.    Pablo Neruda was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He named himself after Czech poet Jan Neruda.  He wrote erotic love poems, surrealistic poetry, historical epics, and even political writings.  In 1971, Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” Neruda always wrote in green ink as it was his personal color of hope.   During his lifetime, Neruda served a stint as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party. When communism was outlawed in Chile in 1948, the government tried to arrest Neruda, but friends hid him in a house basement in Valparaíso, Chile.   Later, Neruda had close ties with Socialist President Salvador Allende.  He died of heart failure and cancer complications three days after the Chilean coup d’etat led by Augustin Pinochet.    Already a legend in life, Neruda’s death reverberated around the world.   Here’s one of Pablo Neruda’s more erotic poems:

Carnal apple, Woman filled, burning moon,
dark smell of seaweed, crush of mud and light,
what secret knowledge is clasped between your pillars?
What primal night does Man touch with his senses?
Ay, Love is a journey through waters and stars,
through suffocating air, sharp tempests of grain:
Love is a war of lightning,
and two bodies ruined by a single sweetness.
Kiss by kiss I cover your tiny infinity,
your margins, your rivers, your diminutive villages,
and a genital fire, transformed by delight,
slips through the narrow channels of blood
to precipitate a nocturnal carnation,
to be, and be nothing but light in the dark.

If you’d like to read or listen to more of Pablo Neruda’s poetry, check out

So folks, I hope that I’ve inspired you to visit Chile, to learn more about Pablo Neruda, to write or read poetry, to explore every city you visit to see if you can find a quilt shop, or simply I hope you find the time and energy to spending some quilting or embroidering.  I leave you with a photo the beautiful purple wisteria growing in my backyard….Purple wisteria in my backyard

Purple wisteria in my backyard