Monday, April 26, 2010

Pablo: The Other Man in My Life


Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's sensuous and often fantastical poetry is filled with images and song: with oranges, the salty sea, odes to seagulls, dictionaries and chairs, freshly-baked bread, straw for a broom, a cry for liberation.

His volume of poetry is the best thing to carry around (a happy brick) and dip into from time to time with funny phrases: "What a world! What deep parsley!" or (his specialty) love poems: "I love you as one loves certain dark things,/ secretly, between the shadow and the soul./ I love you as the plant that doesn't bloom and carries/ the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself..."

His world is ripe and reading him is like laying out in the sun.

Here from his One Hundred Love Sonnets is a unusually tender and domestic poem:

LIII

Here are the bread-the wine-the table-the house:
a man's needs, and a woman's, and a life's.
Peace whirled through and settled in this place:
the common fire burned, to make this light.

Hail to your two hands, which fly and make
their white creations, the singing and the food:
salve! the wholesomeness of your busy feet;
viva! the ballerina who dances with the broom.

Those rugged rivers of water and of threat,
torturous pavilions of the foam,
incendiary hives and reefs: today

they are this respite, your blood in mine,
this path, starry and blue as the night,
this never-ending simple tenderness.

(trans. Stephen Tapscott)

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