Wacky and Wonderful Library: Everyone Needs A Poem

Image result for pablo neruda

Chilean poet, diplomat, and politician, Pablo Neruda was one of the best known poets in the Spanish-speaking world.  He lived a rich life, ranging from hiding in a friend’s basement for three months to escape anti-communist forces to later winning the Nobel Prize for Literature and being personal adviser to Chilean President S. Allende.

Neruda captured dreams and destiny and optimism on paper, and the following is a stunning example.   The original in Spanish is on the right.

Ode to Age, by Pablo Neruda

I don’t believe in age.
All old people
carry
in their eyes,
a child,
and children,
at times
observe us with the
eyes of wise ancients.
Shall we measure
life
in meters or kilometers
or months?
How far since you were born?
How long
must you wander
until
like all men
instead of walking on its surface
we rest below the earth?
To the man, to the woman
who utilized their
energies, goodness, strength,
anger, love, tenderness,
to those who truly
alive
flowered,
and in their sensuality matured,
let us not apply
the measure
of a time
that may be
something else, a mineral
mantle, a solar
bird, a flower,
something, maybe,
but not a measure.
Time, metal
or bird, long
petiolate flower,
stretch
through
man’s life,
shower him
with blossoms
and with
bright
water
or with hidden sun.
I proclaim you
road,
not shroud,
a pristine
ladder
with treads
of air,
a suit lovingly
renewed
through springtimes
around the world.
Now,
time, I roll you up,
I deposit you in my
bait box
and I am off to fish
with your long line
the fishes of the dawn!
Pablo Neruda

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden

Yo no creo en la edad.

Todos los viejos
llevan
en los ojos
un niño,

y los niños
a veces
nos observan
como ancianos profundos.

Mediremos
la vida
por metros o kilómetros
o meses?
Tanto desde que naces?
Cuanto
debes andar
hasta que
como todos
en vez de caminarla por encima
descansemos, debajo de la tierra?

Al hombre, a la mujer
que consumaron
acciones, bondad, fuerza,
cólera, amor, ternura,
a los que verdaderamente
vivos
florecieron
y en su naturaleza maduraron,
no acerquemos nosotros
la medida
del tiempo
que tal vez
es otra cosa, un manto
mineral, un ave
planetaria, una flor,
otra cosa tal vez,
pero no una medida.

Tiempo, metal
o pájaro, flor
de largo pecíolo,
extiéndete
a lo largo
de los hombres,
florécelos
y lávalos
con
agua
abierta
o con sol escondido.
Te proclamo
camino
y no mortaja,
escala
pura
con peldaños
de aire,
traje sinceramente
renovado
por longitudinales
primaveras.

Ahora,
tiempo, te enrollo,
te deposito en mi
caja silvestre
y me voy a pescar
con tu hilo largo
los peces de la aurora!

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