In this poem ‘To the foot from its child’ poet Pablo Neruda has used ‘foot’ as a metaphor to the trails and tribulations of human life, his birth and his death, his dreams and realities. The child ‘foot’ when it is born, does not have the awareness to be a Butterfly or an Apple.
But as the child grows up and faces the hardship of life like walking on stones and bits of glasses, the ladders and the paths in the rough earth, the foot realizes that it is merely a foot and it cannot fly like butterfly nor it can be bulging fruit on a branch.
Because the child’s foot is hurt and injured while walking and doing everyday work; it starts wearing a ‘Shoe’ so the ‘Foot’ feels defeated and just like a fallen prisoner, is condemned to live in a shoe. In the darkness of the shoe, it soon begins to understand the world in its own way.
As the ‘foot’ is enclosed in the darkness of the shoe, it can only feel out like a bindman. It can only feel the hardships a man has to face to survive in this harsh world. It is also unable to see the other foot on a man’s leg. Then age starts catching up with the foot i.e., the child grown into a young man, then he grows old and feeble.
The ‘Foot’ which is enclosed in the darkness of shoe also grows old. The soft nails of the baby foot grow harder and change themselves into opaque substance, hard as a horn. The tiny toes grow bunched and out of trim. They begin to look like eyeless reptiles.
Later as the young foot grows older they grow callused, they become rough and are covered with the scars of the injuries which occurred during the man’s struggle to survive in this world. But this change is hard to accept.
Even though it is old now, the ‘foot’ blindly and without rest and sleep continues to walk. It continues to walk up and down, through fields, mines, markets and ministries, whether it is a man’s foot or a woman’s foot, the ‘foot’ invariably has no time to stop or take off the shoe. It has no time for love or sleep until when man decides to stop i.e., the man is dead.
Then the foot is buried underground unaware, because of the darkness inside. Even though it is buried, the foot is unaware that it has ceases to be a foot or if they were burying it, so that it could fly like a butterfly or could become an apple.
After a man dies his soul is free, but during his life time can never choose to follow his dreams or aspirations, because to survive he has to work hard and, the trials and tribulations of this life.