A whole lotta Neruda

February 19, 2016

#thisweekinpoetry: Every week I look back at the past few days and try to find a poetic quote to match. Or maybe the other way around, I find good poetry and try to match the week with it. Whichever works.

 

 

"Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more than this white head that I hold tightly
as a cluster of fruit, every day, between my hands.

 

You are like nobody since I love you.
Let me spread you out among yellow garlands.
Who writes your name in letters of smoke among the stars of the south?
Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed."

 

From "Poem XIV: Every Day You Play" by Pablo Neruda

 

This week, I'll let the 'this week-part' slide a bit. For good reason. I spent most of this week down with a cold-like flu-type thingy, which doesn't do wonders for your outdoor experiences. My highpoints are finishing the book "S" and starting on "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". Also, I seem to have run out of quality series, so now I'm watching the Shannara Chronicles. MTV taking on fantasy, somehow it ain't right.

 

Valentine

However, this week also was Valentine's day and I couldn't think of a better poet than Pablo Neruda. He wasn't the first poet I was in awe of but unlike the others, he remains my favorite for many years now. Although, in line with last week, I ended up with a different part of the poem than I had intended to use. I remembered the end:

 

My words rained over you, stroking you.
A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body.
I go so far as to think that you own the universe.
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells,
dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.
I want
to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.

 

I had thought to use that. But somehow the beginning of the poem now speaks more to me. I have always considered Neruda as the poet of love. Physical, passionate love but also a fierce love for a country, a people, objects. After all, he wrote odes to tomatoes, clothes, fonts. But this showed me Neruda in a new, almost mystical light.

 

All one

I love how the beloved of this poem is everywhere, in everything. She is bigger than the beloved, she even starts to take on traits of the Beloved from Persian mystical poetry. Add that to the role which the I plays in Neruda's poetry: never submissive, never a victim, always involved: "you are like nobody since I loved you." That made me think of Rilke's "Was wirst du tun, Gott, wenn ich sterbe?" Lover and beloved are one and dependent on one another. Without beloved, no lover but without lover, there will be no beloved. They exist together, intertwined and find each other in everything.

 

Neruda 4eva

Things change. The music I ran wild with when I was 18, sounded like noise by age 35 (looking at you, Swans!). The movie I adored turns out to be vague and pretentious if I watch it now (goodbye, Tierra). The fantasy series that were once exhilarating turned dull and predictable. But some things stay the same because they manage to change along with you, to find you in everything. Like Neruda.

 

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