Thursday, December 8, 2011

His Mistaken Solitude

Today I walked around mulling over this question of life: What is it? Why do I sometimes feel very much alive and sometimes I feel hardly alive? Do the dead still feel, to themselves, as if they lived? And as I mused I noticed a bumper sticker that read simply: "Smile. You're Alive!" And so I smiled. Because I'm alive. And I can.

Then I came home and looked up the following poem by Pablo Neruda. While this is called Ode To Life, Neruda also wrote another poem that is much more well known and has the same title. I'll post it tomorrow.

Ode to life
The entire night
armed with a hatchet,
has broken me with grief,
but sleep
like dark water washed away
the bloody stones.

Today again I am alive.
Again, life
I lift you up,
upon my shoulders.

Oh life,
clear cup,
you fill up with
dirty water,
lifeless wine,
agony, losses, and
overhanging spider webs,
and many believe
you will guard
this nightmarish tint forever.
That is not true.

A lingering night passes,
just one minute passes
and everything changes.
Life's cup
fills up
with transparent brilliance.
The wide quest
awaits us.
Doves are born in a solitary burst.
Light reigns again over the earth.

Life, the poor
believed you to be bitter.
They did not rise from bed
with you
and face the winds of the world.

They received beatings
without searching for you.
They tunneled
a black hole
and continued their journeys,
in mourning,
drowning in a well of loneliness.
That is not true, life.

You are
like my beloved;
between your breasts,
the perfume of spearmint sings.

you are
a complete instrument,,
happiness, sounds
of storm, tenderness
of mellow oil.

you are like a vineyard:
you treasure and dole out light-and share
in the fruits of transformation.

Whoever disowns you
should wait
a minute, a night,
a short or long year,
to emerge
from his mistaken solitude,
to search and fight, to join
hands with other hands.

Do not adopt, do not praise
Reject it, giving it the form
of a wall,
like the stonecutter with the stone.
Take scissors to misfortune,
and make
a pair of trousers.

waits for us-
all of us
who cherish
the wild perfume of the sea,
and the celebration of spearmint
nestled between its breasts.


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