Wednesday, May 4, 2011

ode to broken things

last night i had a dream that my apartment was smashed to pieces. it was like pete townshend had been spent the night, and everything was broken; lampshades, hairbrushes, jewelry, plates, cups, silverware, walls, frames. it was strangely beautiful, though, and in my dream i didn't seem to mind it much at all. it brought me back to a poem by pablo neruda i read in professor maraniss's class at amherst. the poem is titled "ode to broken things" and is from neruda's 1956 compilation of odes to commonplace things called odas elementales. i especially enjoy the last line, "tantas cosas inĂștiles/que nadie rompe/pero se rompieron." the poem resonates much better in spanish, so those of you blessed with bilinguality jump here. enjoy.

Ode to broken things by Pablo Neruda

Things get broken
at home
like they were pushed
by an invisible, deliberate smasher.
It's not my hands
or yours
It wasn't the girls
with their hard fingernails
or the motion of the planet.
It wasn't anything or anybody
It wasn't the wind
It wasn't the orange-colored noontime
Or night over the earth
It wasn't even the nose or the elbow
Or the hips getting bigger
or the ankle
or the air.
The plate broke, the lamp fell
All the flower pots tumbled over
one by one. That pot
which overflowed with scarlet
in the middle of October,
it got tired from all the violets
and another empty one
rolled round and round and round
all through winter
until it was only the powder
of a flowerpot,
a broken memory, shining dust.

And that clock
whose sound
the voice of our lives,
the secret
thread of our weeks,
which released
one by one, so many hours
for honey and silence
for so many births and jobs,
that clock also
and its delicate blue guts
among the broken glass
its wide heart

Life goes on grinding up
glass, wearing out clothes
making fragments
breaking down
and what lasts through time
is like an island on a ship in the sea,
surrounded by dangerous fragility
by merciless waters and threats.

Let's put all our treasures together
-- the clocks, plates, cups cracked by the cold --
into a sack and carry them
to the sea
and let our possessions sink
into one alarming breaker
that sounds like a river.
May whatever breaks
be reconstructed by the sea
with the long labor of its tides.
So many useless things
which nobody broke
but which got broken anyway.


Colleen said...

I don't know; I think it sounds pretty good in English:

that clock also
and its delicate blue guts
among the broken glass
its wide heart

alka said...

beautiful... I love pablo neruda. His writing is so multi-dimensional - like layers within layers. I read tarots and study tarots as a passion not a profession - so neruda with his many interpretations fires my imagination. wonderful! Read what I mean...


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