Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973)

Today is the twenty-seventh, a twenty-seventh.

Who numbered the days?

What is it about?



in this world, on this earth, in this

century, in this time,

in this numerical life, why,

why were we ordered, reduced

to quantities?

Why was daylight divided,

the winter rain,

the bread baked under the sun every summer,

seeds, trains,


death with its numbered houses

in the immense white cemeteries,

streets in rows?

Each of us by number,

shriek not only those in charge

of camps and ovens,

but also the fleshy,

unavoidable brunettes

and sugar-coated blondes:

we are rolled into numbers

and soon fall off a list

into oblivion.

My name is three-hundred,

forty-six, or seven.

Humbly I keep my books

until I get to zero, and I’m gone.

Pablo Neruda, “Numbered” (from “Barren Terrain”, 1969 – 1972)