Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda [Haiti Chery]

from Pablo Neruda's Odes to Opposites, tr. Ken Krabbenhoft:

Ode to Solitude

O solitude, beautiful 
word: crab- 
grows between your syllables! 
But you are only a pale 
word, fool’s 
and counterfeit coin! 
I painted solitude in literary 
dressed it in a tie 
I had copied from a book, 
and the shirt 
of sleep. 
I first really saw it when I was by myself. 
I’d never seen an animal 
quite like it: 
it looks like 
a hairy spider 
or the flies 
that hover over dung, 
and its camel paws have 
suckers like a deep-sea snake. 
It stinks like a warehouse piled high 
with brown hides of rats and seals 
that have been rotting forever. 
Solitude, I want you 
to stop lying through the mouths of books. 
Consider the brooding young poet: 
he’s looking for a black marble slab 
to seduce 
the sleeping senorita; in your honor he erects 
a simple statue 
that he’ll forget 
the morning of his wedding. 
in the half-light of those early years 
we boys stumble across her 
and take her for a black goddess 
shipped from distant islands. 
We play with her torso and pledge 
the perfect reverence of childhood. 
As for the creativity
of solitude: it’s a lie. 
Seeds don’t live 
singly underneath the soil: 
it takes hordes of them to insure 
the deep harmony of our lives, 
and water is but the transparent mother 
of invisible submarine choirs. 

The desert 
Is the earth’s solitude, and mankind’s 
is sterile 
like the desert. The same 
hours, nights and days 
wrap the whole planet 
in their cloak — 
but they leave nothing in the desert. 
Solitude does not accept seeds. 

A ship on the sea 
isn’t the only image of its beauty. 
It flies over the water like a dove, 
end product 
of wondrous collaborations 
between fires and stokers, 
navigators and stars, 
men’s arms and flags in congregation, 
shared loves and destinies. 

In its search for self-expression 
music sought out 
the choir’s coral hardness. 
It was written 
not by a single man 
but by a whole score 
of musical relations. 

And this word 
which I poise here suspended on a branch, 
this song that yearns 
solely for the solitude of your lips 
to repeat it — 
the air inscribes it at my side, lives 
that were lived long before me. 
And you, who are reading my ode: 
you’ve used it against your own solitude. 
We’ve never met, and yet it’s your hands 
that wrote these lines, with mine.

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