Friday, December 9, 2011

Death By Small Doses

To follow yesterday's post of Ode To Life by Pablo Neruda, here is another poem by the same name. I've been told that it is also Neruda, but after scouring a dozen of his books I can find no trace of it. I don't know if it is his or not. Internet sites credit it to Neruda, but where is the paper version of it?

Regardless of who wrote it, it is an intriguing poem. The two are very different in many ways, but both sound clear and ringing warnings, and each are woven throughout with hope and possiblility.

Ode To Life

Slowly dies he who becomes a slave to habit,
repeating the same journey every day,
he who doesn’t change his march, he who doesn’t risk
and change the color of his clothes, he who doesn’t speak to him whom he doesn’t know.

Slowly dies he who makes of the television his guru,
Slowly he who avoids a passion dies, he who prefers
black on white and dots on "i"s rather than a gnawing of emotions
exactly those that make the eyes shine,
those that make the heart beat
before error and feeling.

Slowly dies he who doesn’t overturn the table,
he who is unhappy in his work,

he who doesn’t risk certainty for uncertainty
to follow a dream,
he who doesn’t permit himself at least one time in his life
to flee sensible counsel.

Slowly dies he who doesn’t travel, he who doesn’t read,
he who doesn’t listen to music,

he who doesn’t find grace in himself.
Slowly he who destroys his own love dies,
he who doesn’t allow himself to be helped.
Slowly he who passes his days lamenting
about his own misfortune or the incessant rain dies.

Slowly dies he who abandons a project
before beginning it,
he who doesn’t ask questions about topics he doesn’t know,
he who doesn’t answer when he is asked something that he knows.

Let’s avoid death by small doses,
remembering always that being alive
requires a much larger effort
than the simple act of breathing.

Only burning patience will bring
within reach a splendid happiness.

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