Pablo Neruda

This Ocean is Yours

Ode to Things
by Pablo Neruda, from Odes to Common Things

I have a crazy,
crazy love of things.
I like pliers,
and scissors.
I love
cups,
rings,
and bowls--
not to speak, of course,
of hats.
I love
all things,
not just
the grandest,
also
the
infinite-
ly
small--
thimbles,
spurs,
plates,
and flower vases.

Oh yes,
the planet
is sublime!
It's full of
pipes
weaving
hand-held
through tobacco smoke,
and keys
and salt shakers--
everything,
I mean,
that is made
by the hand of man, every little thing:
shapely shoes,
and fabric,
and each new
bloodless birth
of gold,
eyeglasses,
carpenter's nails,
brushes,
clocks, compasses,
coins, and the so-soft
softness of chairs.

Mankind has
built
oh so many
perfect
things!
Built them of wool
and of wood,
of glass and
of rope:
remarkable
tables,
ships, and stairways.

I love
all
things,
not because they are
passionate
or sweet-smelling
but because,
I don't know,
because
this ocean is yours,
and mine:
these buttons
and wheels
and little
forgotten
treasures,
fans upon
whose feathers
love has scattered
its blossoms,
glasses, knives and
scissors--
all bear
the trace
of someone's fingers
on their handle or surface,
the trace of a distant hand
lost
in the depths of forgetfulness.

I pause in houses,
streets and
elevators,
touching things,
identifying objects
that I secretly covet:
this one because it rings,
that one because
it's as soft
as the softness of a woman's hip,
that one there for its deep-sea color,
and that one for its velvet feel.

O irrevocable
river
of things:
no one can say
that I loved
only
fish,
or the plants of the jungle and the field,
that I loved
only
those things that leap and climb, desire, and survive.
It's not true:
many things conspired
to tell me the whole story.
Not only did they touch me,
or my hand touched them:
they were
so close
that they were a part
of my being,
they were so alive with me
that they lived half my life
and will die half my death.

Climb into the Present

Ode to the Present
by Pablo Neruda, from Odes to Opposites

This
present moment,
smooth
as a wooden slab,
this
immaculate hour,
this day
pure
as a new cup
from the past--
no spider web
exists--
with our fingers,
we caress
the present;

we cut it
according to our magnitude
we guide
the unfolding of its blossoms.
It is living,
alive--
it contains
nothing
from the unrepairable past,
from the lost past,
it is our
infant,
growing at
this very moment, adorned with
sand, eating from
our hands.
Grab it.
Don't let it slip away.
Don't lose it in dreams
or words.
Clutch it.
Tie it,
and order it
to obey you.
Make it a road,
a bell,
a machine,
a kiss, a book,
a caress.
Take a saw to its delicious
wooden
perfume.
And make a chair;
braid its
back;
test it.
Or then, build
a staircase!

Yes, a
staircase.
Climb
into
the present,
step
by step,
press your feet
onto the resinous wood
of this moment,
going up,
going up,
not very high,
just so
you repair
the leaky roof.
Don't go all the way to heaven.
Reach
for apples,
not the clouds.
Let them
fluff through the sky,
skimming passage,
into the past.

You
are
your present,
your own apple.
Pick it from
your tree.
Raise it
in your hand.
It's gleaming,
rich with stars.
Claim it.
Take a luxurious bite
out of the present,
and whistle along the road
of your destiny.

Let’s Not Speak

Deer Haven. May 15, 2011

Keeping Quiet
by Pablo Neruda, from Extravagaria

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.

On the Surface of Everyday Life

mine

XXVI
by Pablo Neruda, from Las Piedras del Cielo

Leave me a place underground, a labyrinth,
where I can go, when I wish to turn,
without eyes, without touch,
in the void, to dumb stone,
or the finger of shadow.

I know that you cannot, no one, no thing
can deliver up that place, or that path,
but what can I do with my pitiful passions,
if they are no use, on the surface
of everyday life,
if I cannot look to survive,
except by dying, going beyond, entering
into the state, metallic and slumbering,
of primeval flame?

Everything is Alive

Keeping Quiet
by Pablo Neruda, from Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon, translated by Stephen Mitchell

Now we will all count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let’s not speak any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fisherman in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn’t be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren’t unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,
if we could perhaps do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I’ll go.

Dos sonetos de amor

In honor of Valentine's Day, here are a couple love sonnets Pablo Neruda wrote for his wife, Matilde Urrutia. These are two of the five sonnets from Cien sonetos de amor (100 Love Sonnets) that Peter Lieberson used in Neruda Songs which he composed for his wife, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.

VIII

Si No Fuera Porque Tus Ojos Tienen Color De Luna

If your eyes were not the color of the moon,
of a day full of clay, and work, and fire,
if even held-in you did not move in agile grace like the air,
if you were not an amber week,

not the yellow moment
when autumn climbs up throught the vines;
if you were not that bread the fragrant moon
kneads, sprinkling its flour across the sky,

oh, my dearest, I could not love you so!
but when I hold you I hold everything that is—
sand, time, the tree of the rain,

everything is alive so that I can be alive:
without moving I can see it all:
in your life I see everything that lives.

LXXXI

Ya Eres Mía. Reposa Con Tu Sueño En Mi Sueño.

And now you’re mine. Rest with your dream in my
dream.
Love and pain and work should all sleep, now.
The night turns on its invisible wheels,
and you are pure beside me as a sleeping amber.

No one else, Love, will sleep in my dreams. You will go,
we will go together, over the waters of time.
No one else will travel through the shadows with me,
Only you, evergreen, ever sun, ever moon.

Your hands have already opened their delicate fists
and let their soft drifting signs drop away;
your eyes closed like two gray wings, and I move

after, following the folding water you carry, that carries
me away. The night, the world, the wind spin out their destiny.
Without you, I am your dream, only that, and that is all.

Neruda Songs

"I realized it was a kind of force that I was listening to," he said recently. "It wasn't the trained voice so much that impressed me... it was the soul behind it."


- Peter Lieberson talking about hearing the voice of his wife, Lorriane Hunt Lieberson, on a recording before meeting her. He composed 'Neruda Songs' for her based on five love poems written by Pablo Neruda.