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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.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

14 responses »

  1. Beautiful poem and post, my friend.

  2. talesfromthelou

    Neruda knows how to use words.

  3. Well, if that don’t say it, I don’t know what does. Brilliant poem.

  4. melanietoulouse

    Bonjour Yvon! Excellent choice… J’aime bcp Pablo, mais en espagnol… 🙂 C’est l’un de mes poètes préférés depuis les années d’université. Mille merci pour tes “haltes” @”playground”, désolée de ne pas passer chez toi plus souvent, mais la vie réelle ne m’en laisse pas le temps… 🙂 (c’est pour ça sue je ne suis abonnée à aucun blog!)
    – – –
    Amitiés toulousaines ensoleillées, bonne santé et bonne chance dans toutes tes activités…
    A bientôt! Mélanie

    • Melanie, thank you for a beautiful comment. I enjoy stopping and visiting Playground. It has many wonderful images and text. I appreciate whenever you can stop by. You leave such wonderful comments.

      Have a good day and take care.


  5. thank you for posting that poem, i hadn’t quite considered the ‘obligation’ as a person who writes poetry, you’ve given me somethings to ponder. and i wanted to thank you as well for liking ‘whole’ today on 20 lines, encouragement is always really appreciated.

  6. Beautiful post with one of my favorite poems. Thank you for the inspiring reminder.

  7. Pingback: The Poet’s Obligation | pujakins

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