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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A MEMORIAL FOR A POET

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 withut a face
and it touched me.
Pablo Neruda from "Poetry"
A year or so ago, a Chilean friend introduced me to the poetry of the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. He also encouraged me to watch the movie Il Postino (the Postman).
I fell in love with Neruda's beautiful words. And tonight, I attended a World Poetry Assoc. evening in honour of Neruda's 101'st birthday.

Neruda was born July 12, 1904 in Parral Chile. He was both a poet and diplomat. Betrween 1970 and 73 he served in Salvador Allende's government as ambassador to Paris. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971. He died in 1973, soon after the coup that ended Allende's government .

Tonight's tribute had included a contest to submit poems in his honour from poets world-wide. There were hundreds of entries. At the performance tonight, which was conducted in both Spanish and English, Neruda's beautiful words were performed including a translation into Indonesian by a local poet and a dramatic recitation of his poems in Spanish and English by the Consul of El Salvador. There were songs in his honour too, performed by Chilean musicians. At the beginning, a lit candle was set out to represent the poet's spirit, and on the table was a large plant that someone had brought from Chile that had originated in Pablo Neruda's garden.

It was a rich evening, and I left with the poet's words resonating in my mind. I must read more of his work. And you can read some of it if you google his name.

Thanks, A. for introducing me to this wonderful poet. They had conjured his spirit tonight, and I'm sure Neruda was there, maybe with a glass of wine in his hand, smiling.

Here's one of my favorites:
"Clenched Soul"
We had lost even this twilight,
No one saw us this evening hand in hand
While the blue night dropped on the world.
Sometimes a piece of sun
burned like a coin in my hand.
I remembered you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know.
Where were you then?
Who else was there?
Saying what?
Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly
When I am sad and feel you are far away?
The book feel that was always closed at twilight
and my blue sweater rolled like a hurt dog at my feet.
Always, always you recede through the evenings
toward the twilight erasing statues.

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