Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

National Poetry Month 2011

April is National Poetry Month. I'll once again promote the wonderful Favorite Poem Project, which I covered more extensively in this 2009 entry. Even people who might not think of themselves as poetry lovers often have a favorite poem that holds personal significance to them.

Here's one I enjoy. I first read it in the first of the three (to date) Favorite Poem Project collections, Americans' Favorite Poems. I'm fond of many of Neruda's poems, and this one speaks to me of the beauty of simple things and small gestures:

Ode to My Socks
by Pablo Neruda

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheep-herder's hands,
two socks as soft
as rabbits.
I slipped my feet
into them
as though into
two
cases
knitted
with threads of
twilight
and goatskin.
Violent socks,
my feet were
two fish made
of wool,
two long sharks
seablue, shot
through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,
my feet
were honored
in this way
by
these
heavenly
socks.
They were
so handsome
for the first time
my feet seemed to me
unacceptable
like two decrepit
firemen, firemen
unworthy
of that woven
fire,
of those glowing
socks.

Nevertheless
I resisted
the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere
as schoolboys
keep
fireflies,
as learned men
collect
sacred texts,
I resisted
the mad impulse
to put them
in a golden
cage
and each day give them
birdseed
and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers
in the jungle who hand
over the very rare
green deer
to the spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stretched out
my feet
and pulled on
the magnificent
socks
and then my shoes.

The moral
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
beauty
and what is good is doubly
good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool
in winter.

(Translated from the Spanish by Stephen Mitchell)

2 comments:

Suzan said...

No one quite touches you like Neruda.

Thanks, Bat!

S

Mal said...

Wow just reading through your blog and this just jumped out at me - love Neruda's poetry but haven't come across this one before. A wonderful piece. Thank you.