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Tag Archives: Pablo Neruda

Ode to Enchanted Light

Pablo Neruda‘s final stanza is about the wonders the world sings out to us. We are in the universe and related to all phenomena. When light drops through the latticework of branches and when the cicada sings the light falls on us and the song includes us.

In the busy world we inhabit, it is difficult to elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary. When we pause and take a breath, the world senses us. We are in the extraordinary, overflowing glass. The world enchants us and we enchant it. We sing a rhapsody that is the world as the etymology of enchant suggests. Our lives become incantations and the response is the world’s incantation we can each hear in those momentary, mindful pauses.

Under the trees light
has dropped from the top of the sky,
light
like a green
latticework of branches,
shining
on every leaf,
drifting down like clean
white sand.

A cicada sends
its sawing song
high into the empty air.

The world is
a glass overflowing
with water.

The Poet’s Obligation

Pablo Neruda wrote this lovely poem which reminds me of the words I speak or write. They carry messages to others who cannot find their way out to the world. It is the poet’s obligation to observe and record with each sense the world he or she lives in. I think in the busy world we live in it is increasingly important we are each a poet and carry messages to the shrouded heart.

To whoever is not listening to the sea
this Friday morning, to who ever is cooped up
in house or office, factory or woman
or street or mine or dry prison cell,
to him I come, and without speaking or looking
I arrive and open the door of his prison,
and a vibration starts up, vague and insistent,
a long rumble of thunder adds itself
to the weigh of the planet and the foam,
the groaning rivers of the ocean rise,
the star vibrates quickly in its corona
and the sea beats, dies, and goes on beating.

So. Drawn on by my destiny,
I ceaselessly must listen to and keep
the sea’s lamenting in my consciousness,
I must feel the crash of the hard water
and gather it up in a perpetual cup
so that, wherever those in prison may be,
wherever they suffer the sentence of the autumn,
I may be present with an errant wave,
I may move in and out of the windows,
and hearing me, eyes may lift themselves,
asking “How can I reach the sea?”
And I will pass to them, saying nothing,
the starry echoes of the wave,
a breaking up of foam and quicksand,
a rustling of salt withdrawing itself,
the gray cry of sea birds on the coast.

So, though me, freedom and the sea
will call in answer to the shrouded heart.

Light Reading

While on holidays I read My Invented Country: A Memoir by Isabel Allende. It was a chance reading as I purchased the book at a second-hand store. Once I began reading it, I could not put it down and finished it in one sitting. A line that stood out was “I can’t pretend to know what part of my memory is reliable and how much I’ve invented, because the job of defining the line between them is beyond my ability. I have read that the mental process of imagining and that of remembering are so much alike that they are nearly indistinguishable.”  We imagine the life we live as much as we live the life we live.

Isabel Allende recounted her love for the poetry of Pablo Neruda. My favourite Pablo Neruda poem is Ode to My Socks. This is the last stanza: The moral of my ode is this:/beauty is twice beauty/and what is good is doubly good/when it is a matter of two socks/made of wool in winter. I remind students, when they write poetry, reveal the ordinary as the extraordinary. The knitting of socks was an act of love as was the wearing of the socks.

Kathy picked up a book by Paulo Coelho knowing how much I enjoy this particular author’s books. A line about life and its meaning is “A strange transformation began to take place: now that she had the bird and no longer needed to woo him, she began to lose interest. The bird unable to fly and express the true meaning of his life began to waste away and his feathers to lose their gloss; he grew ugly; and the woman no longer paid him any attention, except by feeding him and cleaning out his cage.” With meaning in life, we discover beauty and fulfillment or, perhaps, they discover us.

Paolo Coelho spent time touring Europe including Spain and one result was his best-known book, The Alchemist. Spain was the homeland of a poet I enjoy, Antonio Machado. The following lines are from his poem, Cantares: “Traveller, the road is only/your footprint, and no more; /traveller, there’s no road, /the road is your travelling. /Going becomes the road/and if you look back/you will see a path/none can tread again.

There is never a shortage of great reading. We only have to find it.

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