Monday, July 9, 2018

Conceited Soloists, Migratory Musicians (Happy Birthday to Pablo)

It is said that when he died, a flamingo feeding on the Altiplano vanished into thin air, so as to bear his body into the heavens.

Rumor is that he still writes from the afterlife. His pen now the rivulets of lava flowing from volcanoes, his words found in the flight lines of geese skeins, in bark beetle galleries, whale songs.  

NERUDA

painting by Alberto Ramierz Leg

He began his life as Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoaltoand had his life taken as Pablo Neruda, when he was murdered by order of the brutal dictator (and dear friend of the CIA) Augusto Pinochet in September of 1973. If Neruda's fate were different, he may have been celebrating his 114th birthday on Thursday, wheezing on a constellation of candles with his pet coypu by his side and a swarm of green-backed firecrowns about his head.
Among his many achievements (Nobel Prize winner, esteemed diplomat, losing his virginity in a barn to an older woman) Neruda wrote some mindbending poems about birds, including the one below. Put it in your mouth. Wash it down with a glass of pais. Let it fester in your throat. Refuse antibiotics. 
And spread the Good Word of Neruda.

Feliz cumpleaños, Pablo.
Ode to Birdwatching

Now
to look for birds!
The high iron branches
in the forest,
the dense
fecundity of the soil,
the whole world
is wet,
rain or dew
shines, a tiny
star
in the leaves:
in the early morning
mother earth is cool,
the air
is like a river
that shakes
the silence,
it smells of rosemary,
of space
and roots.
Above,
a wild song,
a waterfall,
it's a bird.
How
from a throat
smaller than a finger
can the waters
of this song fall?
Luminous grace!
Invisible
power,
torrent
of music
in the leaves,
sacred conversation!

Clean, washed, cool
is this day,
resonant
like a green zither,
I bury my shoes
in the mud,
I leap over springs,
a thorn
nips me and a gust
of air like a crystal
wave
separates on my chest.
Where
are the birds?
Was that one, maybe,
that
whispering in the foliage
or that fugitive ball
of gray velvet
or that sudden shift
of perfume?  That leaf
which the cinnamon tree let go,
was it a bird?  That dust
from the irritated magnolia
or that fruit
which fell resounding,
was that a flight?
O invisible little cretins,
fiendish birds,
go
to hell
with your twittering,
with your useless feathers!
I just wanted
to stroke them,
to see them glisten,
I don't want
to see their lightning embalmed
in a showcase,
I want to see them alive,
I want to touch their gloves
of genuine leather,
which they never forget in the branches,
and to talk with them
on my shoulders
even if they leave me like certain statues
undeservedly whitened.

Impossible.
They can't be touched,
they can be heard
like a heavenly
whisper or movement,
they talk
precisely,
repeat
their observations,
brag
about whatever they're doing,
comment
on whatever exists,
master
certain sciences
like hydrography
and know for certain
where all the grains
are being harvested.

Well then,
invisible
birds
of the forest, of the woods,
of the pure bower,
birds of the acacia
and of the oak,
crazy, amorous,
astonishing birds,
conceited
soloists,
migratory musicians,
one last
word
before
I go back
with wet shoes, thorns
and dry leaves
to my home:
vagabonds,
I love you
free,
far from the shotgun and the cage,
fugitive
corollas,
this is the way
I love you,
ungraspable,
united and sonorous
society of the heights,
liberated
leaves,
champions
of the air,
petals
of smoke,
free,
cheerful
flyers and singers,
aerial, terrestrial,
sailors of the wind,
happy
builders
of the softest nests,
unceasing
messengers of pollen,
matchmakers
of the flower, uncles
of the seed,
I love you,
ingrates:
I'm going home,
happy to have lived with you
a moment
in the wind.


4 comments:

  1. Awesome. Thanks for posting.
    Even with the rugeat, have a well-worn Neruda anthology in the living room shelf of honor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need to get an honor shelf put in, thanks for the reminder.

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  2. I was prepared to hate this (because poetry + pet coypu) but well played, Pablo. Good stuff.

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