pablo and the pacific

There is a book called On the Blue Shore of Silence, which is a collection of Pablo Neruda’s poems about the sea. (I don’t own it.)  The thing with Mister Neruda, is that even if poems are not about the sea, they’ve almost all got saltwater in their veins anyway. Strangely and/or sensibly, he was afraid of the ocean and called himself  ‘a sailor of the land’. Well, I think standing at the edge of the sea and loving it is as honourable as being immersed in it or afloat on it.

(scheduled post)

I’ve posted two or three of these before, but tough (as they say in the classics) titty. Thank you ||Poem Hunter|| for the poems online and the pdf too.

The Sea

I need the sea because it teaches me,
I don’t know if I learn music or awareness,
if it’s a single wave or its vast existence,
or only its harsh voice or its shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the university of the waves.

It’s not simply the shells crunched
as if some shivering planet
were giving signs of its gradual death;
no, I reconstruct the day out of a fragment,
the stalactite from a sliver of salt,
and the great god out of a spoonful.

What it taught me before, I keep. It’s air
ceaseless wind, water and sand.

It seems a small thing for a young man,
to have come here to live with his own fire;
nevertheless, the pulse that rose
and fell in its abyss,
the cracking of the blue cold,
the gradual wearing away of the star,
the soft unfolding of the wave
squandering snow with its foam,
the quiet power out there, sure
as a stone shrine in the depths,
replaced my world in which were growing
stubborn sorrow, gathering oblivion,
and my life changed suddenly:
as I became part of its pure movement.

Ode to the Sea

Here on the island
the sea
and so much sea
it says yes, then no,
then no, no, no,
then yes, in blue,
in foam, with gallops,
it says no, again no.
It cannot stay still,
my name is sea, it repeats
while slamming against rocks
but unable to convince rocks,
with seven green tongues
of seven green dogs,
of seven green tigers,
of seven green seas,
it smothers rocks, kisses rocks,
drenches rocks
and slamming its chest,
repeats its name.
O sea, you declare yourself,
O comrade ocean,
don’t waste time and water,
don’t beat yourself up,
help us,
we are lowly
men of the shore,
we’re cold and hungry
and you’re the enemy,
don’t slam so hard,
don’t scream like that,
open your green trunk
and give all of us
on our hands
your silver gifts:
fish every day.

Here in each house,
we all crave it
whether it’s of silver,
crystal or moonlight,
spawn for the poor
kitchens on earth.
Don’t hoard it,
you miser,
coldly rushing like
wet lightning
beneath your waves.
Come, now,
open yourself
and leave it
near our hands,
help us, ocean,
deep green father,
end one day
our earthly poverty.
Let us
harvest your lives’
endless plantation,
your wheat and eggs,
your oxes, your metals,
the wet splendor
and submerged fruits.

Father sea, we know already
what you are called, all
the seagulls circulate
your name on the beaches:
now, behave yourself,
don’t shake you mane,
don’t threaten anyone,
don’t smash against the sky
your beautiful teeth,
ignore for a moment
your glorious history,
give to every man,
to every
woman and to every child,
a fish large or small
every day.
Go out to every street
in the world
and distribute fish
and then
so all the working poor
could hear you,
so they could say,
sticking their heads
into the mine:
“Here comes the old man sea
to distribute fish.”
And they’ll go back down
into the darkness,
smiling, and on the streets
and in the forests,
men and the earth
will smile
an oceanic smile.
if you don’t want it,
if you don’t care for it,
then wait,
wait for us,
we must worry, first
we must try to solve
and straighten out
human affairs,
the biggest problems first,
then all the others,
and then
we’ll enter you,
we’ll chop the waves
with a knife made of fire,
on an electric horse
leaping over foam,
we’ll sink
until we touch the bottom
of your guts,
an atomic thread
will guard your shank,
we’ll plant
in your deep garden
of cement and steel,
we’ll tie
your hands and feet,
on your skin man will walk,
yanking in bunches,
building armatures,
mounting and taming you
to dominate your spirit.
All this will occur
when us men
have straighten out
our problem,
the big,
the big problem.
We’ll slowly
solve everything:
we’ll force you, sea,
we’ll force you, earth
perform miracles,
because in our very selves,
in the struggle,
is fish, is bread,
is the miracle.

The Wide Ocean

Ocean, if you were to give, a measure, a ferment, a fruit
of your gifts and destructions, into my hand,
I would choose your far-off repose, your contour of steel,
your vigilant spaces of air and darkness,
and the power of your white tongue,
that shatters and overthrows columns,
breaking them down to your proper purity.

Not the final breaker, heavy with brine,
that thunders onshore, and creates
the silence of sand, that encircles the world,
but the inner spaces of force,
the naked power of the waters,
the immoveable solitude, brimming with lives.
It is Time perhaps, or the vessel filled
with all motion, pure Oneness,
that death cannot touch, the visceral green
of consuming totality.

Only a salt kiss remains of the drowned arm,
that lifts a spray: a humid scent,
of the damp flower, is left,
from the bodies of men. Your energies
form, in a trickle that is not spent,
form, in retreat into silence.

The falling wave,
arch of identity, shattering feathers,
is only spume when it clears,
and returns to its source, unconsumed.

Your whole force heads for its origin.
The husks that your load threshes,
are only the crushed, plundered, deliveries,
that your act of abundance expelled,
all those that take life from your branches.

Your form extends beyond breakers,
vibrant, and rhythmic, like the chest, cloaking
a single being, and its breathings,
that lift into the content of light,
plains raised above waves,
forming the naked surface of earth.

You fill your true self with your substance.
You overflow curve with silence.

The vessel trembles with your salt and sweetness,
the universal cavern of waters,
and nothing is lost from you, as it is
from the desolate crater, or the bay of a hill,
those empty heights, signs, scars,
guarding the wounded air.

Your petals throbbing against the Earth,
trembling your submarine harvests,
your menace thickening the smooth swell,
with pulsations and swarming of schools,
and only the thread of the net raises
the dead lightning of fish-scale,
one wounded millimetre, in the space
of your crystal completeness.

In the wave-strike over unquiet stones’

IX From: ‘Cien sonetos de amor’

In the wave-strike over unquiet stones
the brightness bursts and bears the rose
and the ring of water contracts to a cluster
to one drop of azure brine that falls.

O magnolia radiance breaking in spume,
magnetic voyager whose death flowers
and returns, eternal, to being and nothingness:
shattered brine, dazzling leap of the ocean.

Merged, you and I, my love, seal the silence
while the sea destroys its continual forms,
collapses its turrets of wildness and whiteness,

because in the weft of those unseen garments
of headlong water, and perpetual sand,
we bear the sole, relentless tenderness.


Night Sea

Night sea, statue of white and green
I love you: sleep with me. I travelled all
the roads, calcined and dying,
nature grew with me, Man
overcame his ashes, prepared himself
for rest, surrounded by the Earth.

Night fell so that your eyes
could not see his miserable slumber:
needing nearness, he opened his arms
protected by beings and walls,

and fell into the sleep of silence, sinking
with his roots into the funereal earth.
I, night ocean, to your open form,
to your expanse that Aldebaran guards,
to the wet mouth of your song
came with the love that builds me.

I saw you, night of the sea, when you were born
beaten into infinite nacre:
I watched the starry threads woven,
and the electricity at your waist,
and the blue motion of the sounds
that hound your devoured sweetness.

Love me without love, flagrant wife.

Love me with space, with the river
of your breathing, with the increase
of all your overflowing diamonds:
love me without respite from your aspect,
grant me the honesty of your breakers.
Beautiful, you are, beloved night, beautiful:
you keep the tempest like a bee
slumbering among your agitated stamens,
dream and water tremble in the hollows
of your breasts, harassed by slopes.

Nocturnal love, I followed what you raised,
your eternity, the trembling tower
that assumes the stars, the measure
of your wavering, the villages
that the spume raises on your flanks:
I am fastened to your throat
and to the lips that you bruise on the sand.

Who are you? Night of the seas, tell me
whether your heights of hair cover
all solitude, whether it is infinite
this space of blood and prairies.
Tell me who you are, full of boats,
full of moons the wind crushes,
mistress of all metals, rose
of the depths, rose drenched
by the harsh weather of naked love.

Earth’s tunic, green statue,
grant me a wave like a bell,
grant me a wave of furious orange blossom,
the crowd of bonfires, the boats
of the sky’s capital, the water where I sail
the crowds of celestial fire. I want one
moment of expansiveness, and more than
all dreams, your remoteness:
all the purples you measure, your grave
pensive, constellated system:
all your hair touched
by darkness, and the dawn you prepare.

I want to contain your simultaneous brow,
unfurling it within me, to be born
on all your shores, to go now
with all the secrets breathed,
with your shadow lines kept safe
in me like blood or flags,
carrying these secret measures
to the sea of every day, to the battles
in every gateway – loves and threats –
that live slumbering.

But then

I will enter the city with as many eyes
as you, and I will bear the garment
with which you invested me, and may I be moved
to the furthest reaches of measureless water:
by purity and rage against every deathliness,
remoteness that cannot be exhausted, music
for those who slumber and those who wake.

It is Born

Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning.


The First Sea

I discovered the sea. From Carahue
the river Cautín flowed to its estuary
and, in the paddleboats,
dreams and another life began to possess me,
leaving questions in my eyelashes.
A frail child, a bird,
a solitary student or a shadowy fish,
I stood alone in the prow,
from joy, while
the world of the little ship,
unaware of me,
unwound the thread
of the accordions.
The passing visitors
of summer and the water
were eating and singing.
I, in the prow, small, hardly human,
still without mind or voice
or joy,
transfixed by the movement of the water
flowing between the receding mountains—
mine alone were those solitary places,
mine alone that elemental pathway,
mine alone the universe.
Rapture of the rivers,
banks of thicket and fragrance,
sudden boulders, burnt-out trees,
and land, ample and lonely.
Child of those rivers,
I kept on
traveling the earth
along the same river edges
toward the same sea-foam
and when the sea of that time
crashed down like a broken tower,
rose curling in its rage,
I broke free of my roots.
My country grew in size.
My world of wood split open.
The prison of the forests
opened a green door,
letting in the wave in all its thunder,
and, with the shock of the sea,
my life widened out into space.

Soliloquy in the Waves

Yes, but here I am alone.
A wave
builds up,
perhaps it says its name, I don’t understand,
it mutters, humps in its load
of movement and foam
and withdraws. Who
can I ask what it said to me?
Who among the waves can I name?
And I wait.
Once again the clearness approached,
the soft numbers rose in foam
and I didn’t know what to call them.
So they whispered away,
seeped into the mouth of the sand.
Time obliterated all lips
with the patience
of shadow and
the orange kiss
of summer.
I stayed alone,
unable to respond to what the world
was obviously offering me,
listening to
that richness spreading itself,
the mysterious grapes
of salt, love unknown,
and in the fading day
only a rumor remained,
further away each time,
until everything that was able to
changed itself into silence.


Forget About Me

Among the things the sea throws up,
let us hunt for the most petrified,
violet claws of crabs,
little skulls of dead fish,
smooth syllables of wood,
small countries of mother-of-pearl;
let us look for what the sea undid
insistently, carelessly,
what it broke up and abandoned,
and left behind for us.

Petals crimped up,
cotton from the tidewash,
useless sea-jewels,
and sweet bones of birds
still in the poise of flight.

The sea washed up its tidewrack,
the air played with the sea-things;
when there was sun, it embraced them,
and time lives close to the sea,
counting and touching what exists.

I know all the algae,
the white eyes of the sand,
the tiny merchandise
of the tides in autumn,
and I walk with the plump pelican,
building its soaking nests,
sponges that worship the wind,
shelves of undersea shadow,
but nothing more moving
than the vestiges of shipwrecks—
the smooth abandoned beams
gnawed by the waves
and disdained by death.

Let us look for secret things
somewhere in the world,
on the blue shore of silence
or where the storm has passed,
rampaging like a train.
There the faint signs are left,
coins of time and water,
debris, celestial ash
and the irreplaceable rapture
of sharing in the labor
of solitude and the sand.

The Old Women Of The Ocean

To the solemn sea the old women come
With their shawls knotted around their necks
With their fragile feet cracking.

They sit down alone on the shore
Without moving their eyes or their hands
Without changing the clouds or the silence.

The obscene sea breaks and claws
Rushes downhill trumpeting
Shakes its bull’s beard.

The gentle old ladies seated
As if in a transparent boat
They look at the terrorist waves.

Where will they go and where have they been?
They come from every corner
They come from our own lives.

Now they have the ocean
The cold and burning emptiness
The solitude full of flames.

They come from all the pasts
From houses which were fragrant
From burnt-up evenings.

They look, or don’t look, at the sea
With their walking sticks they draw signs in the sand
And the sea erases their calligraphy.

The old women get up and go away
With their fragile bird feet
While the waves flood in
Traveling naked in the wind.

Leaning into the afternoons

Leaning into the afternoons,
I cast my sad nets towards your oceanic eyes.
There, in the highest blaze my solitude lengthens and flames;
its arms turning like a drowning man΄s.
I send out red signals across your absent eyes
that wave like the sea, or the beach by a lighthouse.
You keep only darkness my distant female;
from your regard sometimes, the coast of dread emerges.

Leaning into the afternoons,
I fling my sad nets to that sea that is thrashed
by your oceanic eyes.
The birds of night peck at the first stars
that flash like my soul when I love you.
The night, gallops on its shadowy mare,
Shedding blue tassels over the land.

Ode to Hope

Oceanic dawn
at the center
of my life,
waves like grapes,
the sky’s solitude,
you fill me
and flood
the complete sea,
the undiminished sky,
and space,
sea foam’s white
the orange earth,
the sun’s
fiery waist
in agony,
so many
gifts and talents,
birds soaring into their dreams,
and the sea, the sea,
chorus of rich, resonant salt,
and meanwhile,
we men,
touch the water,
and hoping,
we touch the sea,

And the waves tell the firm coast:
‘Everything will be fulfilled

Ode to Salt

This salt
in the salt cellar
I once saw in the salt mines.
I know
you won’t
believe me
it sings
salt sings, the skin
of the salt mines
with a mouth smothered
by the earth.
I shivered in those
when I heard
the voice
the salt
in the desert.
Near Antofagasta
the nitrous
v oice,
a mournful

In its caves
the salt moans, mountain
of buried light,
translucent cathedral,
crystal of the sea, oblivion
of the waves.
And then on every table
in the world,
we see your piquant
vital light
our food.
of the ancient
holds of ships,
the high seas,
of the unknown, shifting
byways of the foam.
Dust of the sea, in you
the tongue receives a kiss
from ocean night:
taste imparts to every seasoned
dish your ocean essence;
the smallest,
wave from the saltcellar
reveals to us
more than domestic whiteness;
in it, we taste infinitude.



Poet’s Obligations

To whoever is not listening to the sea
this Friday morning, to whoever is cooped up
in house or office, factory or woman
or street or mine or harsh prison cell;
to him I come, and, without speaking or looking,
I arrive and open the door of his prison,
and a vibration starts up, vague and insistent,
a great fragment of thunder sets in motion
the rumble of the planet and the foam,
the raucous rivers of the ocean flood,
the star vibrates swiftly in its corona,
and the sea is beating, dying and continuing.

So, drawn on by my destiny,
I ceaselessly must listen to and keep
the sea’s lamenting in my awareness,
I must feel the crash of the hard water
and gather it up in a perpetual cup
so that, wherever those in prison may be,
wherever they suffer the autumn’s castigation,
I may be there with an errant wave,
I may move, passing through windows,
and hearing me, eyes will glance upward
saying ‘How can I reach the sea?’
And I shall broadcast, saying nothing,
the starry echoes of the wave,
a breaking up of foam and quicksand,
a rustling of salt withdrawing,
the grey cry of the sea-birds on the coast.

So, through me, freedom and the sea
will make their answer to the shuttered heart.

Sonnet IX-There Where the Waves Shatter

There where the waves shatter on the restless rocks
the clear light bursts and enacts its rose,
and the sea-circle shrinks to a cluster of buds,
to one drop of blue salt, falling.

O bright magnolia bursting in the foam,
magnetic transient whose death blooms
and vanishes–being, nothingness–forever:
broken salt, dazzling lurch of the sea.

You & I, Love, together we ratify the silence,
while the sea destroys its perpetual statues,
collapses its towers of wild speed and whiteness:

because in the weavings of those invisible fabrics,
galloping water, incessant sand,
we make the only permanent tenderness.

Sonnet Xxxiv (You Are The Daughter Of The Sea)

You are the daughter of the sea, oregano’s first cousin.
Swimmer, your body is pure as the water;
cook, your blood is quick as the soil.
Everything you do is full of flowers, rich with the earth.

Your eyes go out toward the water, and the waves rise;
your hands go out to the earth and the seeds swell;
you know the deep essence of water and the earth,
conjoined in you like a formula for clay.

Naiad: cut your body into turquoise pieces,
they will bloom resurrected in the kitchen.
This is how you become everything that lives.

And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms
that push back the shadows so that you can rest-
vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.

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