Wednesday, January 26, 2011

And then this

Keeping Quiet

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth
let's not speak in any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Pablo Neruda
Extravagaria 1958


  1. Good night, Angella. Sleep with the angels.xo

  2. Oh, wow. That's fantastic. I've never read that poem -- and your title is perfect, too, because with poetry it's like that: "and then there's this."

  3. A fine case of goosebumps to send me to bed. The poem is new to me as well, but the thought of a universal moratorium - for even so short an interval - speaks of our ability, one person at a time, to be instruments of change. That anyone thinks these things means they are possible.

  4. Melissa, thank you, sweet one.

    Elizabeth, i know. i was in the gloomy place and then i just ran across this. it was so random, but not.

    Marylinn, i used to love pablo neruda when i was a teenager and it was a radical thing to love a Cuban poet. No one talks about him much anymore, but he's amazing.