“Ode to the Tomato” by Pablo Neruda Analysis and Poem

Ode to the Tomato

“Ode to the Tomato” is a poem written by Pablo Neruda. The original Spanish title is “Oda al Tomate”. Let’s take a look at a summary and analysis of the poem and then read a translation written by Gary R. Hess.

Summary

Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to the Tomato” is a traditional ode. Meaning, it is a poem written directly to praise an individual or, as in this case, a thing.

The writing reflects on tomatoes being everywhere during summer and then describes its usage. It goes into detail about the juice of the tomato, the slicing of its flesh and the dishes it is served with.

Analysis

“Ode to the Tomato” is a contemporary sensory poem. It uses our various senses to describe our kitchen during the summer with an abundance of tomatoes both in our dishes and on our counters.

Theme: The greatness of tomatoes
Meter: none

Figurative language

  • Benign majesty (majestad benigna) – friendly controller (referring to the reader)
  • Kill it (se hunde) – slice it
  • Viscera (viscera) – the insides of the tomato
  • Magnetism (magnetism) – attraction
  • Wed / Weddings (bodas) – combination
  • Pennants (banderines) – a flag for special occasions. In this case, parsley is put on the tomatoes for special occasions
  • Canals (canales) – the dips in the side of the tomato
  • Star of Earth (astro de tierra) – something is seen as great on Earth
  • Star / repeated / and fertile (estrella / repetida / y fecunda) – something we use constantly and yet it is still not tiring

Ode to the Tomato by Pablo Neruda

The street
is full of tomatoes,
midday,
summer,
the light
is parted
in two
like
a tomato,
running
through the streets
is its juice.
In December,
the aroused
tomato
invades
the kitchen,
enters lunches,
sits
resting
on the sideboard,
among the glasses,
the butter dishes,
the salt shaker.
It has its
own light,
benign majesty.
We must, unfortunately,
kill it:
sink
the knife
in its living pulp,
it is a red
viscera,
a sunny,
cool,
profound,
endlessness,
over salads
of Chile,
it’s wed happily
with the clear onion,
and to celebrate
we pour
drops
of oil,
child of
essential olive,
over their half-open hemispheres,
adding
pepper
is its fragrance,
salt its magnetism:
they are the weddings
on the day
the parsley
raises
pennants,
potatoes
boil vigorously,
the asado
hits
with its aroma
at the door,
it’s time!
and about
the table, in the middle
of summer,
the tomato,
star of Earth,
star
repeated
and fertile,
it shows us
its convolutions,
its canals,
the distinguished fullness
and abundance
boneless,
without armor,
without scales or thorns,
gives us
the gift
of its fiery color
and the totality of its freshness.

Gary R. Hess

Gary was born and raised on a small farm in rural Kansas. Today, he is teaching various nationalities English in Southeast Asia. Get his newest poetry eBook here.