Chilean Poet and Diplomat, Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature
Pablo Neruda, pen name for Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto
Chilean Poet and Diplomat, Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature
Keeping Quite - Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still. For once on the face of the earth, let's not speak in any language; let's stop for one second, and not move our arms so much. It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines; we would all be together in a sudden strangeness. Fisherman in the cold sea would not harm whales and the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands. Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire, victories with no survivors, would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers in the shade, doing nothing. What I want should not be confused with total inactivity. Life is what it is about; I want no truck with death. If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death. Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive. Now I'll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go.
One time, investigating in the backyard of our house in Temuco the tiny objects and minuscule beings of my world, I came upon a hole in one of the boards of the fence. I looked through the hole and saw a landscape like that behind our house, uncared for, and wild. I moved back a few steps, because I sensed vaguely that something was about to happen. All of a sudden a hand appeared ? a tiny hand of a boy about my own age. By the time I came close again, the hand was gone, and in its place there was a marvelous white sheep. The sheep?s wool was faded. Its wheels had escaped. All of this only made it more authentic. I had never seen such a wonderful sheep. I looked back through the hole, but the boy had disappeared. I went into the house and brought out a treasure of my own: a pinecone, opened, full of odor and resin, which I adored. I set it down in the same spot and went off with the sheep.
To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses ? that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things. That exchange brought home to me for the first time a precious idea: that all of humanity is somehow together... It won?t surprise you then that I attempted to give something resiny, earthlike, and fragrant in exchange for human brotherhood. Just as I once left the pinecone by the fence, I have since left my words on the door of so many people who were unknown to me, people in prison, or hunted, or alone. This exchange of gifts ? mysterious ? settled deep inside me like a sedimentary deposit.
This time is difficult, wait for me: we will live it out vividly. Give me your small hand: we will rise and suffer, we will feel and rejoice. We are once more the pair who lived in bristling places, in harsh nests in the rock. This time is difficult, wait for me with a basket, with a shovel, with your shoes and your clothes. Now we need each other not only for the carnations' sake, not only to look for honey: we need our hands to wash with and to make fire, and so let our difficult time stand up to infinity with four hands and four eyes.
We have to discard the past and, as one builds floor by floor, window by window, and the building rises, so do we keep shedding -- first, broken tiles, then proud doors, until, from the past, dust falls as if it would crash against the floor, smoke rises as if it were on fire, and each new day gleams like an empty plate. There is nothing, there was always nothing. It all has to be filled with a new, expanding fruitfulness; then, down falls yesterday as in a well falls yesterday's water, into the cistern of all that is now without a voice, without fire. It is difficult to get bones used to disappearing, to teach eyes to close, but we do it unwittingly. Everything was alive, alive, alive, alive like a scarlet fish, but time passed with cloth and darkness and kept wiping away the flash of the fish. Water water water, the past goes on falling although it keeps a grip on thorns and on roots. It went, it went, and now memories mean nothing. Now the heavy eyelid shut out the light of the eye and what was once alive is now no longer living; what we were, we are not. And with words, although the letters still have transparency and sound, they change, and the mouth changes; the same mouth is now another mouth; they change, lips, skin, circulation; another soul took on our skeleton; what once was in us now is not. It left, but if they call, we reply I am here, and we realize we are not, that what was once, was and is lost, lost in the past, and now does not come back.
While I'm writing, I'm far away; and when I come back, I've gone.
You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs? and the poppy-petalled metaphysics? and the rain repeatedly spattering its words and drilling them full of apertures and birds.
You will ask: And where are the lilacs? And the metaphysical blanket of poppies? And the rain that often struck your words filling them with holes and birds?
To harden the earth the rocks took charge: instantly they grew wings: the rocks that soared: the survivors flew up the lightning bolt, screamed in the night, a watermark, a violet sword, a meteor. The succulent sky had not only clouds, not only space smelling of oxygen, but an earthly stone flashing here and there changed into a dove, changed into a bell, into immensity, into a piercing wind: into a phosphorescent arrow, into salt of the sky.
We open the halves of a miracle, and a clotting of acids brims into the starry divisions: creation's original juices, irreducible, changeless, alive: so the freshness lives on.
White bee, even when you are gone you buzz in my soul you live again in time, slender and silent.
You are here. Oh, you do not run away. You will answer me to the last cry. Curl round me as though you were frightened. Even so, a strange shadow once ran through your eyes. Now, now too, little one, you bring me honeysuckle, and even your breasts smell of it. While the sad wind goes slaughtering butterflies I love you, and my happiness bites the plum of your mouth.
You will ask: why does your poetry not speak to us of sleep, of the leaves, of the great volcanoes of your native land? Come and see the blood in the streets, come and see the blood in the streets, come and see the blood in the streets!
To whom I can ask what I came to do in this world? Do I move inadvertently? Why cannot I be still? Do I'm rolling without wheels, flying without wings or feathers? And what I got to transmigrate if you live in Chile my bones?
We were behind you with our lassoes in our hands, they answered.
Who dies? slowly dies who becomes the slave of habit, repeating every day the same paths, who does not change brands not risk to wear a new color or does not talk to those unfamiliar. Dies slowly he who does the television his guru. dies slowly who avoids a passion, who prefers black on white and the dots on the is at the expense of a whirlwind of emotions, just those that restore the luster of the eyes, smiles from yawns, hearts from the stumbling and feelings . Dies slowly he who does not overthrow the table when is unhappy at work, who does not risk the certain for the uncertain to go after a dream, who are not permitted at least once in life, flee from sensible advice. Dies slowly he who does not travel, who does not read, who does not listen to music, who does not find grace in himself. dies slowly who destroys his self-love, who do not let themselves be helped. Dies slowly, who spends his days complaining of his bad luck or the incessant rain. Dies slowly he who abandons a project before starting it, no question about a subject that is unknown or does not respond when you ask about something you know. Let's avoid death in mild doses, remembering always that being alive requires an effort much larger than the simple fact of breathing. Only perseverance will we achieve superb stage of happiness.
You are like nobody since I love you.
You will remember that leaping stream where sweet aromas rose and trembled, and sometimes a bird, wearing water and slowness, its winter feathers. You will remember those gifts from the earth: indelible scents, gold clay, weeds in the thicket and crazy roots, magical thorns like swords. You'll remember the bouquet you picked, shadows and silent water, bouquet like a foam-covered stone. That time was like never, and like always. So we go there, where nothing is waiting; we find everything waiting there.
Today is today, and yesterday was. No doubt.
We will never have any memory of dying. We were so patient about our being, noting down numbers, days, years and months, hair, and the mouths we kiss, and that moment of dying we let pass without a note -we leave it to others as memory, or we leave it simply to water, to water, to air, to time. Nor do we even keep the memory of being born, although to come into being was tumultuous and new; and now you don?t remember a single detail and haven?t kept even a trace of your first light. It?s well known that we are born. It?s well known that in the room or in the wood or in the shelter in the fishermen?s quarter or in the rustling cane fields there is a quite unusual silence, a grave and wooden moment as a woman prepares to give birth. It?s well known that we were all born. But if that abrupt translation from not being to existing, to having hands, to seeing, to having eyes, to eating and weeping and overflowing and loving and loving and suffering and suffering, of that transition, that quivering of an electric presence, raising up one body more, like a living cup, and of that woman left empty, the mother who is left there in her blood and her lacerated fullness, and its end and its beginning, and disorder tumbling the pulse, the floor, the cover still everything comes together and add some knot more to the thread of life, nothing, nothing remains in your memory of the savage sea which summoned up a wave and plucked a shrouded apple from the tree. The only thing you remember is your life.-Births
Who I am in this dead city ... but I do not understand the Ashes.
You are the daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin. Swimmer, your body is pure as the water; cook, your blood is quick as the soil. Everything you do is full of flowers, rich with the earth. Your eyes go out toward the water, and the waves rise; your hands go out to the earth and the seeds swell; you know the deep essence of water and the earth, conjoined in you like a formula for clay. Naiad: cut your body into turquoise pieces, they will bloom resurrected in the kitchen. This is how you become everything that lives. And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms that push back the shadows so that you can rest - vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.
Your wide eyes are the only light I know from extinguished constellations.
Together you and I, my love, seal the silence while the sea destroys its constant statues and collapses its towers of rapture and whiteness, because the plot of these invisible threads of runaway water, incessant sand, we hold the sole and harassed tenderness.
What does autumn go on paying for with so much yellow money?