between melons and oranges

An old poet friend of mine, Chris Vannoy, (one of the first to encourage my path to poetry) has a poem called “Neruda” which says how you will find him “between melons and oranges.”  I always found that clever.

The best introduction to Pablo Neruda, and perhaps one of the better intructions to poetry itself, is the movie “Il Postino.”  I saw it once and it inspired many words from me (perhaps that will be what I post tomorrow), and I would love to see it again over and over.  It prompted me to find more Neruda and in doing so, I happened across the collection Love, Ten Poems by Pablo Neruda, which features many of the poems in the movie.  There is also a soundtrack to the movie which has several celebrities reading these pieces.  I love most of them and they randomly come on my iPod.  This piece is probably one of the best I’ve read or heard that describes the call to poetry.

Poetry
by Pablo Neruda

And it was at that age…Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

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