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Pablo Neruda - Too Many Names

Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
and the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut
with your weary scissors,
and all the names of the day
are washed out by the waters of night.

No one can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
of Chiles and of Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it is without a name.

When I lived amongst the roots
they pleased me more than flowers did,
and when I spoke to a stone
it rang like a bell.

It is so long, the spring
which goes on all winter.
Time lost its shoes.
A year is four centuries.

When I sleep every night,
what am I called or not called?
And when I wake, who am I
if I was not while I slept?

This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formalities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much of signing of papers.

I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crepitant fragrance.


-- from Neruda: Selected Poems, by Pablo Neruda / Translated by Anthony Kerrigan

Poetry Chaikhana | Pablo Neruda - Too Many Names


I also have heard Venezuela spoken of
with an incomprehension  not born of geographic ignorance.
I have also heard tell of America and Iraq
and Avalon and Eden and El Dorado
and wondered if such places could possibly exist.
No way!! i have concluded,
On the basis of available evidence
they are chimera, fantasies.
Like Godzilla or Jibreel
Nothing that big could possibly be good.
Nothing that unreal could sustain itself for long.
Surely no country that can be named could be eternal..

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
amaebi
Apr. 19th, 2015 12:46 pm (UTC)
I have never read that poem before, either, and I also love it. Mostly the roots and the stone.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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