Welcome to another round of pretzels and bullfights – hope all bets are placed; and my apologies, I should’ve mentioned earlier – there’s no refunds, but there is lots of good company. And pretzels. Did I mention pretzels?
Right, down to business. Our special guest off the bookshelf this week is one Pablo Neruda, the pen name (and later legal name – yes, some writers do that) of Chilean poet Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. A Nobel prize winner, this poet is a fascinating find – while many of his fellow greats were known for a particular brand (school) of poetry, Neruda’s skill flourished across a wide spectrum – from surrealist pieces, to the political manifesto (Neruda was, by the way, a very passionate Communist), and even erotic love poems.
Today we examine his piece, “Walking Around,” and its theme of continuing on…what do you think?
“It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.
The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.
It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.
Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the cold.
I don’t want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.
I don’t want so much misery.
I don’t want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.
That’s why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the
And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.
There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical
I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling.”
P.S. If you don’t have the time to read Pretzels and Bullfights on a given day, or if you just happen to miss the literary fun, you can always hunt past editions down in the archive. They will also be posted on my own blog every Thursday, in accordance with my Poetic Spotlights that started this whole crazy train to literary goodness. Cheers!
Thank you Chris! This week, the pub games begin for real. Here are your first three questions
1. What is the name of the song Claudia sang for Poetics and who was the original artist to perform it? (10 points)
2. Sticking with the music theme, what is OPP (in relation to poetry)? (5 points)
3. Name the poet that always links to OpenLinkNight using Youtube to perform his poems for us. (10 points)
Please email answers to firstname.lastname@example.org for your chance to win fabulous prizes. The person with the most points after six weeks wins.