Friday, April 02, 2010

April is National Poetry Month

I like this poem because it typifies Neruda's incredible imagination and how poetry can come from the most mundane things.   Just look around you and see "the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower..."

Ode to the Table

I worked out my odes
on a four-legged table,
laying before me bread and wine
and roast meet
(that block boat
of our dreams).
Sometimes I set out scissors cups and nails,
hammer and carnations.
Tables are trustworthy:
titanic quadrupeds,
they sustain
our hopes and our daily like.
The rich man's table,
scrolled and shining,
a fabulous ship
bearing bunches of fruit
Gluttony's table in a wonder,
piled high with Gothic lobsters,
and there is also a lonesome
table in our aunt's dining room,
is summer. They've closed
the curtains,
and a single ray of summer light
strikes like a sword
upon this table sitting in the dark
and greets the plum's transparent peace.
And there is a faraway table, a humble table,
where they're weaving
a wreath
for a dead miner.
That table gives off the chilling odor
of a man's wasted pain.
There's a table
in a shadowy room nearby
that love sets ablaze with its flames.
A woman's glove was left behind there,
trembling like a husk of fire.
The world
is a table
engulfed in honey and smoke,
smothered by apples and blood.
The table is already set,
and we know the truth
as soon as we are called:
whether we're called to war or to dinner
we will have to choose sides,
have to know
how we'll dress
to sit
at the long table,
whether we'll wear the pants of hate
or the shirt of love, freshly laundered.
It's time to decide,
they're calling:
boys and girls,
let's eat!

-Pablo Neruda