Seven Unforgettable Nicanor Parra Quotes

· December 11, 2018

These Nicanor Parra quotes are amazing. This anti-poet lived for more than a century and never ceased to surprise us with his particular way of seeing the world and expressing it.

He was born on September 5, 1914, in San Fabián de Alico, Chile. His father was a musician and a school teacher and his mother was a dressmaker and weaver. Since childhood, his parents taught him how to appreciate popular art. They also instilled a strong social conscience in him, which can be seen in many of his quotes.

“Neither too bright nor totally stupid, I was what I was: a mixture. Of vinegar and olive oil.”

-Nicanor Parra-

He won the National Prize for Literature in 1969, the Queen Sofia Prize in 2002, and the Miguel de Cervantes Prize in 2011. He died at the age of 103.

Without further ado, here are some of the most unforgettable Nicanor Parra quotes.

A Nicanor Parra quote on statistics

One of anti-poetry’s characteristics is that it breaks away from the conventions of traditional poetry. For instance, it uses much more bizarre structures and languages. It’s a movement that aims to demonstrate that poetry doesn’t need to have an intricate play on words.

We can learn a lot by reading some Nicanor Parra quotes.

Nicanor Parra’s quotes are also anti-verses or anti-poems. For example: “There are two pieces of bread. You eat two. I eat none. Average consumption: one bread per person”. In this quote, he’s referring to the contradictions of statistics applied to society with some irony and humor.

The oracle’s response

Nicanor Parra’s anti-poetry explored the absurd. He captured this perfectly in several of his anti-poems and verses. For instance: “The oracle’s response: whatever you do, you’ll regret it”.

It’s a beautiful way to state that it ultimately doesn’t matter what happens next nor what we do. In the end, it will always be imperfect and wrong to some extent. Doing something means implies not doing something else. Consequently, this almost always leads to some degree of regret.

Guilt and forgiveness

Here’s a beautiful verse, which has also become one of his most popular quotes: “Stealing flowers by the light of the moon. I beg the whole world’s pardon. But I do not admit that I am guilty”.

There's a lot of wisdom behind Nicanor Parra quotes.

The flowers that are stolen from the darkness are made of light and he asks forgiveness for that. However, the interesting part is the second half of the verse because he asks for forgiveness but doesn’t plead guilty.

What a beautiful way to declare that even if there was damage done, there’s no regret. It’s a statement that people act out of conviction, even if they’re aware that others will be affected.

Are countries real or are they just illusions?

Nicanor Parra spoke a lot about politics in his anti-poems. He was somewhat of an anarchist and was rather on the side of humanity and reason.

Here’s another great Nicanor Parra quote: “We think we are a country. But actually, we are a landscape at best”. In other words, he rejected those political-administrative concepts that man created. The Earth never delimited countries. Man created borders. In reality, there’s only landscape.

The names of things

The anti-poet also reflected about poetry in his poems. The poet’s role is wonderfully defined in this deep quote: “The poet is not true to his word if he doesn’t change the names of things”.

We can get a glimpse of the anti-poet's wisdom by reading som quotes by Nicanor Parra.

Specifically, it means that poetry should strive to rename the world and reality. Poets should rebaptize the physical and abstract world. Namely, they should say things in a way that has never been said before.

These are just a few of Nicanor Parra’s amazing quotes. We hope you enjoyed them!