7+ Best Nicanor Parra Poems

Nicanor Segundo Parra Sandoval was a Chilean poet, mathematician, and physicist. He is considered one of the most influential poets in spanish language of the 20th century often compared with Pablo Neruda.

If you’re searching for famous poems ever that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of best known Gabriela Mistral poems, most famous Javed Akhtar poems and selected David Wagoner poems.

Famous Nicanor Parra Poems

The Last Toast

Whether we like it or not,
We have only three choices:
Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

And not even three
Because as the philosopher says
Yesterday is yesterday
It belongs to us only in memory:
From the rose already plucked
No more petals can be drawn.

The cards to play
Are only two:
The present and the future.

And there aren’t even two
Because it’s a known fact
The present doesn’t exist
Except as it edges past
And is consumed…,
like youth.

In the end
We are only left with tomorrow.
I raise my glass
To the day that never arrives.

But that is all
we have at our disposal.


In case of fire
Do not use elevators
Use stairways
unless otherwise instructed

No smoking
No littering
No sh*tt*ng
No radio playing
unless otherwise instructed
Please Flush Toilet
After Each Use
Except When Train
Is Standing At Station
Be thoughtful
Of The Next Passenger
Onward Christian Soldiers
Workers of the World unite
We have nothing to loose [sic]
but our life Glory to the Father
& to the Son & to the Holy Ghost
unless otherwise instructed
By the way
We also hold these truths to be
self evident
That all man [sic] are created
That they have been endowed
by their creator
With certain inalienable rights
That among these are: Life
Liberty & the pursuit of happiness
& last but not least
that 2 + 2 makes 4
unless otherwise instructed

The Trap

During that time I kept out of circumstances that were too full of mystery
As people with stomach ailments avoid heavy meals,
I preferred to stay at home inquiring into certain questions
Concerning the propagation of spiders,
To which end I would shut myself up in the garden
And not show myself in public until late at night;
Or else, in shirt-sleeves, defiant,
I would hurl angry glances at the moon,
Trying to get rid of those bilious fancies
That cling like polyps to the human soul.
When I was alone I was completely self-possessed,
I went back and forth fully conscious of my actions
Or I would stretch out among the planks of the cellar
And dream, think up ways and means, resolve little emergency problems.
It was at that moment that i put into practice my famous method for interpreting dreams
Which consists in doing violence to oneself and then imagining what one would like,
Conjuring up scenes that I had worked our beforehand with the help of powers from other worlds.
In this manner I was able to obtain priceless information
Concerning a string of anxieties that afflict our being:
Foreign travel, erotic disorders, religious complexes.
But all precautions were inadequate,
Because, for reasons hard to set forth,
I began sliding automatically down a sort of inclined plane.
My soul lost altitude like a punctured balloon,
The instinct of self-preservation stopped functioning
And, deprived of my most essential prejudices,
I fell unavoidably into the telephone trap
Which sucks in everything around it, like a vacuum,
And with trembling hands I dialed that accursed number
Which even now I repeat automatically in my sleep.
Uncertainty and misery filled the seconds that followed,
While I, like a skeleton standing before that table from hell
Covered with yellow cretonne,
Waited for an answer from the other end of the world,
The other half of my being, imprisoned in a pit.
Those intermittent telephone noises
Worked on me like a dentist’s drill,
They sank into my soul like needles shot from the sky
Until, when the moment itself arrived,
I started to sweat and to stammer feverishly,
My tongue like a veal steak
Obtruded between my being and her who was listening,
Like those black curtains that separate us from the dead.
I never wanted to conduct those over-intimate conversations
Which I myself provoked, just the same, in my stupid way,
My voice thick with desire, and electrically charged.
Hearing myself called by my first name
In that tone of forced familiarity
Filled me with a vague discomfort,
With anguished localized disturbances which I contrived to keep in check
With a hurried system of questions and answers
Which roused in her a state of pseudo-erotic effervescence
That eventually affected me as well
With a feeling of doom.
Then I’d make myself laugh and as a result fall into a state of mental prostration.
These ridiculous little chats went on for hours
Until the lady who ran the pension appeared behind the screen
Brusquely breaking off our stupid idyll.
Those contortions of a petitioner at the gates of heaven
And those catastrophes which so wore down my spirit
Did not stop altogether when I hung up
For usually we had agreed
To meet next day in a soda fountain
Or at the door of a church whose name I prefer to forget.

Young Poets

Write as you will
In whatever style you like
Too much blood has run under the bridge
To go on believing
That only one road is right.

In poetry everything is permitted.

With only this condition of course,
You have to improve the blank page.

(trans. by Miller Williams)


In Santiago, Chile
The days are interminably long:
Several eternities in a day.

Like the vendors of seaweed
Travelling on the backs of mules:
You yawn – you yawn again.

Yet the weeks are short
The months go racing by
And the years have wings.


Strolling many years ago

Down a street taken over by acacias in bloom

I found out from a friend who knows everything

That you had just gotten married.

I told him that I really

Had nothing to do with it.

I never loved you

— You know that better than I do —

Yet each time the acacias bloom

— Can you believe it? —

I get the very same feeling I had

When they hit me point-blank

With the heartbreaking news

That you had married someone else.

— translated by David Unger

I Take Back Everything I’ve Said

Before I go

I’m supposed to get a last wish:

Generous reader

burn this book

It’s not at all what I wanted to say

Though it was written in blood

It’s not what I wanted to say.

No lot could be sadder than mine

I was defeated by my own shadow:

My words took vengeance on me.

Forgive me, reader, good reader

If I cannot leave you

With a warm embrace, I leave you

With a forced and sad smile.

Maybe that’s all I am

But listen to my last word:

I take back everything I’ve said.

With the greatest bitterness in the world

I take back everything I’ve said.

— translated by Miller Williams