Ode to Life

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June 2014 313-1
Happy Birthday Pablo Neruda! Thank you for your work of making the ordinary extraordinary.

Ode to Life

The whole night,
armed with an axe,
has overwhelmed me with grief,
but the dream
passed by washing, like dark water,
bloodied stones.
Today I am alive again,
Again,
I wake you,
life,
on my shoulders,

Oh life,
clear cup,
suddenly
you fill up
with dirty water,
with dead wine,
with agony, with losses,
with overhanging spiderwebs,
and many believe
you will keep
that hellish color forever.

It is not true.

A slow night passes,
a single minute passes
and everything changes.
The cup of life
brims
with translucence.
The spacious job
awaits us.
Doves are born in a lonesome burst.
Life on earth is established.

Life, the poor
poets
thought you were bitter,
they did not rise
from bed with you,
with the wind of the world.

They received beatings
without looking for you,
scuttled
a black hole
and began to drown
in the mourning
of a solitary well.

It is not true, life,
you are
beautiful
like my beloved
and between your breasts you distill
the smell of spearmint.

Life,
you are
a full machine,
happiness, sound
of a thunderstorm, tenderness
of delicate oil.

Life,
you are like a vineyard:
treasuring light, distributing it
remixed in clusters of grapes.

He who evades you
let him wait
a minute, a night,
a short year, a long one,
exit
his lying solitude,
let him inquire and fight, bring
his hands to other hands,
he should not adopt or flatter
misery,
let him reject it giving it
the shape of a wall,
like the stone to the stonemason,
let him cut misery
and turn it into
a pair of pants.
Life awaits
us all
who love
the wild
perfume of the sea and the spearmint
it keeps between its breasts.

-Pablo Neruda, translated by Ilan Stavans.
April 2014 115-2

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