Friday, December 10, 2004

But such a wide sea you are, oh death! You don’t come wave after wave...

I read today in a book that Pablo Neruda went to Peru and stayed several weeks in Machu Picchu, writing beautiful poetry. This one is about death...

“Almighty death beckoned me many times:
It was like unseen salt inside the waves,
And what its invisible taste was scattering
Was like something half sinking, half rising
Or like vast structures made of wind and blizzards

I came to the edge of the iron blade, to the narrow
Of the air, to the shroud of farming and stone
To the starry void of the final footsteps
And the dizzying spiral highway
But such a wide sea you are, oh death!
You don’t come wave after wave
But like a stampede of nocturnal clarity
Or like night’s absolute numbers.

You never sneaked up like a pickpocket,
You couldn’t come without your red dress on
Without your rosy carpet of clinging silence:
Without tall buried legacies of tears

I couldn’t love in every soul a tree
With its little autumn on its shoulders (the death of a thousand leaves)
All the ersatz deaths
And resurrections
With no earth, no abyss
I wanted to swim in the widest lives
In the wildest rivermouths
And when man was
Denying me a little at a time
And blocking the way and
Slamming doors so the streams of my hands
Would never knock at his wounded nonexistence,
It was then that I went from street to street
And river to river
And city to city and bed to bed
And my salt – streaked mask made its way across the desert
And in the last humiliated houses, with no lamp,
No fire, no bread, no stone, no silence, alone,
I roamed on, dying on my own death”

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