We’ve mentioned before the waves constantly crashing along the rocky coastline stretching just a few steps away from the doors of the Enjoy Viña del Mar Casino and Resort. Walk inside the now bustling Grand Ballroom where Day 1B of the LAPT Chile Main Event has begun and the rhythm of the waves gets replaced by riffling chips, the familar soundtrack to a tourney’s ebb and flow.
There’s something inspiring about those waves, a kind of natural punctuation to the sentences of life. One thinks of others having been so inspired, and when it comes to Chile and such lyrical turns of thought, it’s hard not to think of Pablo Neruda, the country’s most famous literary export for whom the ocean was a favorite subject.
Neruda was born in Parral in 1904, some distance down the coast from Santiago and Viña del Mar. An old home of his is located in the Casablanca Valley, surrounded by thousands of acres of vineyards and located less than an hour’s drive from the casino. A museum dedicated to Neruda is nearby as well.
Neruda began writing poems as a teenager, achieving fame by his late teens via his initial publications many of which reflected the contemporary influence of the surrealists.
His story took many twists, including political involvements and various conflicts, with consistently brilliant artistic output accompanying each compelling turn. His poetry has been translated into practically every language, earning him fans all over the globe. In 1971 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Two years later Neruda passed away amid the country’s tumultuous coup d’état resulting in the overthrow and death of then president Salvador Allende and subsequent rise to power fo Augusto Pinochet.
For some with memories stretching back far enough, the ’73 coup and its international effects stand out when they think of the country. But its Neruda’s influence as one of the century’s great poets that continues to show its impact via various avenues including music, film, and the writings of the many influenced by him.
One of Neruda’s poems, titled “Enigmas,” suggests the ocean can inspire a kind of awe, affording a kind of perspective for the various questions about our existence most of us can’t help but consider.
“You’ve asked me what the lobster is weaving there with his golden feet?” it begins (in the poet Robert Bly’s translation).
“I reply, the ocean knows this.”
More questions in a similar vein follow, including one combining both reference to marine life and the dealing of a hand of cards.
“You’ve found in the cards a new question touching on the crystal architecture of the sea anemone,” writes Neruda. “And you’ll deal that to me now?”
The speaker has no answers, other than to reaffirm “the ocean knows.” Meanwhile he is “nothing but the empty net” in which by poem’s end he finds himself caught, “a fish trapped inside wind.”
It’s an enigmatic poem all right. Meanwhile the cards here continue to pose their own questions, causing players to get caught in their own and others’ nets.
Photography from LAPT7 Chile by Carlos Monti. Follow live streaming coverage throughout LAPT7 Chile in Spanish at PokerStars or via Facebook as well as in Portuguese, also at PokerStars or via Facebook.
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.