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Pablo Neruda - Keeping Quiet

Keeping Quiet

by Pablo Neruda

English version by Alastair Reid
Original Language Spanish

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.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

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
and of 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.


-- from Extravagaria: A Bilingual Edition, Translated by Alastair Reid
Poetry Chaikhana | Pablo Neruda - Keeping Quiet

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Oct. 9th, 2017 12:27 am (UTC)
Gorgeous! I read it aloud and couldn't help but smile at some parts.

e_d_young
bobby1933
Oct. 10th, 2017 10:40 pm (UTC)
Yes; but i would suggest 90 seconds of stillness (at least.
amaebi
Oct. 10th, 2017 11:29 am (UTC)
I specially like the salt-gatherer looking at his hurt hands.
bobby1933
Oct. 10th, 2017 10:42 pm (UTC)
<3. I also thought that line was special.
everville340
Oct. 14th, 2017 02:54 pm (UTC)
Sir, it could only be a synchronicity of the Universe that you posted this right before I spent a handful of days without electricity, and then I found my way to it afterwards. It speaks to me immensely, and echoes through my mind. I would like very much, if you wouldn't mind, to share this on Facebook, if that would be okay with you?
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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