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These past few weeks the excitement, stress, worry over my book has segued into stress, worry and lament for Palestine. Some moments I can hardly negotiate myself so used to the total absorption in my artistic world as I am, with the hard realities of the present world so much in glaring urgent evidence.

This morning I reached for one of my books of poetry by Pablo Neruda and found this poem which I admit to have never read before, a poem written in the year of my birth. A poem like the distant familiar tolls of a bell in the next county over or the bark of a solitary dog in the dark-nighted forest of some deep glen, drawing me in and conjuring memory.

POETRY

Pablo Neruda

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,
deciphering
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.
And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

Pablo Neruda - Selected Poems bought at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris

Pablo Neruda – Selected Poems bought at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris

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