Quest Story: Pablo Neruda’s ‘Lamb and the Pinecone’

Born in Chile in 1904, Pablo Neruda was one of our most exuberantly generous modern poets. Here is a story of the power of small, unheralded giving to change the world.

Pablo Neruda’s boyhood backyard was overgrown, and he spent many days exploring its small wild places. One afternoon, he discovered a hole in one of the boards of the fence separating his house from the one next door. Sensing something was about to happen, he stepped back. A small boy’s hand appeared and then disappeared again, leaving behind a small woolen toy lamb.

Pablo looked through the hole for the boy, but he was gone. Moved by the gift, Neruda retrieved one of his most prized possessions from his house – a pine cone, “opened, full of odor and resin, which I adored.” He left it at the hole and went off to play with the sheep.

That small incident had a profound effect on Neruda, and helped shape his gift to the world. He said that that incident was the first time he realized that all of humanity was somehow connected.

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