Monday, September 1, 2014

Pablo Neruda - Poetry

Ok, this poet I know, though I haven't read any of his works before.  This is Pablo Neruda, one of the most famous poets of the 20th century.  The poem is titled, fittingly enough, 'Poetry'.

And it was at that age . . . Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did now know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,

that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

I like it.  I love the idea of the spirit of poetry descending upon an unaware boy and changing him over.  (I don't know if that's really how it works.)  We've all had times like that when something simply clicks in us and the world opens up.  This captures that moment in perfect poetic quality.  The original is in Spanish but I think that this translation works well.
I'll keep an eye out for more Neruda.

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