Tuesday, May 28, 2013

TUESDAY POEM | I Need The Sea by Pablo Neruda

                               I need the sea because it teaches me.
                               I don't know if I learn music or awareness,
                               if it's a single wave or its vast existence,
                               or only its harsh voice or its shining one,
                               a suggestion of fishes and ships.
                               The fact is that until I fall asleep,
                               in some magnetic way I move in
                               the university of the waves.

                               Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda: Absence and Presence

I was fortunate to spend time with poet and dear friend Melissa Green in Boston last month. She took me to her favourite second-hand bookstore where we came upon this magnificent book - Pablo Neruda | Absence and Presence. Actually, it was Melissa who picked it up in the 'new arrivals' section; she pressed it into my hands saying, 'You need to take this one home'. What a treasure it is - 'an hypnotic journey'. Neruda's poems are translated by Alastair Reid with photographs by Luis Poirot. "In this book, through Neruda's words, his friends' words, and magnificent photographs, we come to know his magical world, and ultimately the man himself. . . A passionate acquirer, he collected ships in bottles, shells, postcards, ship's figureheads, sextants, clocks, stones, books, hats and more. These objects served as extensions of his imagination, the vocabulary of his poems. . . " (from the book's back cover)

"The houses he collected were turned into original and often whimsical objects in themselves. Luis Poirot's photographs were taken at Neruda's house on the Pacific Ocean and they demonstrate the way in which the poet imbued the house and all it contained with his own vitality, style and imagination." 

(also from this book) Neruda's Self Portrait

"How to present oneself, to seem human yet come out well? As when one looks in the mirror or at a picture, trying for the best angle (surreptitiously), but coming out always the same? Some people stand sideways, others intrude what they want to be, others ask who they are. But the truth is that we are always watchful, lying in wait for ourselves, pointing up only the obvious, concealing the irregularities of our apprenticeships and of time itself. 

But let's get to the nub.

As for me, I have - or see myself as having - a solid nose, small eyes, not much hair on my head, a spreading belly, long legs, broad feet, a yellowish complexion. I am generous with my love, hopeless at counting, clumsy with words; with gentle hands, a slow walk, a rustless heart; enthusiastic about stars, tides, and sea storms; an admirer of scarabs, a sand walker, bored by institutions, a Chilean ever and always, friend to my friends, close-mouthed about my enemies, a dabbler in birds, awkward about the the house, shy in drawing rooms, repentant for no reason, a terrible administrator, an armchair sailor, an ink merchant, discreet with animals, happy under stormy skies, a prowler of markets, withdrawn in libraries, melancholy in the mountains, tireless in forests, slow of answer, witty years after, vulgar all year long, sparkling in my notebook, huge of appetite, a fierce sleeper, at peace when happy, an inspector of night skies, an invisible worker, disorganised, persistent, brave when necessary, cowardly but not to a fault, lazy by vocations, lovable to women, active in suffering, a poet by ill fate, and something of a fool." Pablo Neruda 

This week's editor on the Tuesday Poem hub is Elizabeth Welsh, a freelance academic editor and poet from New Zealand, currently living in and travelling around Europe. Elizabeth has posted Four Paintings - a sequence of poems by Kiri Piahana-Wong, a New Zealander of Māori (Ngāti Ranginui), Chinese and Pākehā (English) ancestry. You can check out Kiri's first collection Night Swimming here


Today seems to be a day for the sea - either for needing it or finding it in unexpected places. (I am in the sea and the sea's in me?) It's snowing in Dunedin and the flurries have momentarily engulfed both harbour and peninsula. It is  as quiet as a sleeping turtle. I can barely make out the giant (c)old trees at the bottom of my front steps. 

As to the sea - please visit Marylinn Kelly's blog where the magical story of Gloria and The Reading Man (TRM - aka Mr. Apotienne) is unfolding in the most delightful of ways. . . 

". . . From his capacious coat he extracted a postcard, a seascape oil by Turner from the Tate, found tucked within his current volume of borrowed oratory.  I carry the ocean in my pocket, he thought, or it finds me, insistent as the tattooed name of a long-ago love. . . " 

(Can you possibly resist?)


  1. Claire--and Marylinn--- ((((((((((((((0)))))))))))))

  2. Thank you, M dear - and, too, for placing this beautiful book in my hands and nudging me to bring it home. ( ( ((o)) ) )

  3. Claire, Thank you and Mr. Neruda and the water where we all connect. xo