Poetry (by Pablo Neruda)

In thinking about poetry and how it happens with me, how I write, Neruda seems to have best said what I feel in my soul and the way I write. Form for me follows the function. I hear the spirit and write the words. Then and only then do I tailor the form that it seems to need. There is no place for games or confusion in poetry. It is to be as simple and yet as complex as a well composed image. I would only hope that my works are as simply complex as Neruda’s.

And it was at that age … Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.
Pablo Neruda

There They Stand

There They Stand
There upon the planked boards
underneath ancient flowery vine,
exchanging thoughts and words,
sipping a cup of coffee, a glass of wine.

Between those sets of hands,
with writer’s pen and artist’s form,
they exchange aspirations and plans,
not higher thoughts beyond the norm.
but to dress some quaint new way,
find some room to let, some habitation,
that has no more style, no more life,
than the sweet surroundings of vine and wood,
of the simple terrace upon which they stood.
before they sat in sublime repose,
to sip frothed and sweetened coffee

and thinking sweet thoughts.

Force to Fore

What sacrifice this lust?
Not of the flood of opposing forces of distrust,
Leveling peace against destruction,
That in no small way
Concerns itself with salvation bending strength,
Preserving rather than war,