Book: The Book of Questions

Tell me, is the rose naked or is that her only dress?

Why do trees conceal the splendor of their roots?

Who hears the regrets of the thieving automobile?

Is there anything in the world sadder than a train standing in the rain?

The Book of Questions

Pablo Neruda’s The Book of Questions consists of 320 questions with no answer. These questions form the 74 poems in this collection and are a wonderful reflection of both childlike wonder and the workings of the adult’s mind. They are beautiful to read and once in a while, a certain question takes your breath away. But more often than not it’s not the beauty of the words strung together that strike you, but more of the question posed. These are question that children sometimes ask, questions at the back of our minds that we wonder about, but never find an answer to. Some are philosophical in nature, yet more are just simple, direct questions about the world around us and how it works.

Isn’t it better never than late?

Am I allowed to ask my book whether it’s true I wrote it?

Is 4 the same 4 for everybody? Are all sevens equal?

Does he who is always waiting suffer more than he who’s never waited for anyone?

And is where space ends called death or infinity?

Do we learn kindness or the mask of kindness?

The above questions struck me and I took them out of context from the poem they were in. The below questions, come together and I’ve denoted them by colour.

Why is it so hard, the sweetness of the heart of the cherry?

Is is because it must die or because it must carry on?


And why is the sun such a bad companion to the traveler in the desert?

And why is the sun so congenial in the hospital garden?


Where is the child I was, still inside me or gone?

Does he know that I never loved him and that he never loved me?

Why did we spend so much time growing up only to separate?

Why did we both not die when my childhood died?

And why does my skeleton pursue me if my soul has fallen away?


And hasn’t the sea been lent for a brief time to the earth?

Won’t we have to give it back with its tides to the moon?

This particular collection remind me of the limitless imagination that Italo Calvino has as well. It’s what really draws me to books. This creativity that I can’t produce on my own. I think it’s wonderful to have this window into some of the greatest minds. I highly, highly recommend this book. I will be re-reading it and give myself more time to really ponder on these questions and let my mind take me wherever it may go hence.


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