Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What I share with my students on the 6th anniversary of 9/11

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.

-from Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon
Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Please see also: Poets Against the War. I have a poem there, along with a former professor, MDB.


Lyle Daggett said...

Thanks for your comment in my blog.

I like the poem you've posted here, though (unless I missed something) you don't say who it's by -- only that it's been translated by Stephen Mitchell.

The book it's from (the title you noted), "Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon" is -- if I remember right -- the title of a fairly recent selection of Neruda's poems, though I may be remembering wrong.

Molly said...

Yes! It is Neruda; one of my favorites.