Mario Ruoppolo is a young man in an insular Italian fishing village where time moves slowly. Since Mario's seasickness doesn't allow him to fish, he is given the job of postman, delivering mail on a bicycle to only a single customer, the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. After a while, the two become good friends. Neruda has been exiled to Italy because of his communist views. In the meantime, Mario meets a beautiful young lady, Beatrice Russo, in the village's only cafe. With the help of Neruda, Mario is able to better communicate his love to her through the use of metaphors. The two are later married. The poet Neruda and his wife are allowed to return to Chile. Some months after, Mario makes a recording of village sounds for Neruda. Years after, Neruda comes back to the island as a tourist and finds Beatrice and her son in the same old cafe. Through her, he discovers that Mario had been killed a while back. He was going to read his poetry at a large political gathering in Naples but was killed by police intervention. Beatrice gives Neruda the recordings of village sounds, which also record the sounds of police brutality leading to Mario's death.

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