Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda


Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let's not speak any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn't be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren't unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,

if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I'll go.

Ode to Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda
-from Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon 
Translated by Stephen Mitchell

for more Tuesday Poems, please click on the quill. 
This week's editor is Robert Sullivan with Envelope by Anna Jackson


  1. Susan ( ( (((o))) ) ). . . * ^ *

    Ant. . . ~ ~ ~ ~ * >

    ; )

  2. He was - is - something, isn't he Kathleen. A man waaay ahead of his time. So many of his poems have prescience written all over them.

  3. A wise and beautiful piece of work, but that last line stumps me. I keep coming back to it....

    "Now I will count to twelve
    and you keep quiet and I'll go."

    But then, that's when poetry is at its best -- the continual mystery of language.

  4. This is beautiful.
    IT's particularly relevant bearing in mind current problems in London., Birmingham, M/Ch.
    What a wonderful blog.