Heart to Heart

Autumn Testament by Pablo Neruda

An excerpt from
Autumn Testament by Pablo Neruda

My own sorrows I leave to
all those who made me suffer
but by now I’ve forgotten them
and I don’t know where I lost them-
if they turn up in the forest
they’re like tangleweed.
They grow from the ground up
and end where you end,
at your head, at the air-
to keep them from growing,
spring has to be changed

I’ve come within range of hate.
Terrifying, its tremors,
its dizzying obsessions.
Hate’s like a swordfish
invisible in the water,
knifing suddenly into sight
with blood on its blade—
clear water misleads you.

Why, why do we hate so much
those who hate us?
There they are underwater,
hunters lying in wait,
swords and oilcans ready,
spiderwebs and mousetraps.
It has nothing to do with being Christian,
or with prayer or with tailoring;
it’s just that HATE IS A LOSER.
Scales fell from eyes
in the poison market;
meanwhile the sun comes out
and I start to work
and to buy bread and wine.

To hate I’ll leave
my own horseshoes,
my sailor’s shirt,
my traveler’s shoes,
my carpenter’s heart,
all the things I did well,
and which helped me to suffer,
the strong clear things I had,
permanent and passing,
so that it dawns on the world
that those who have trees and water
can carve ships, set sail,
can go away and come back.
suffer and love,
have fears, do work,
be and go on being,
be fruitful and die,
be simple and complex,
not have ears,
turn misery to account,
wait for a flower’s coming—
in a word, LIVE;
although there are always some shitheads
who will not accept our lives.

Sorry about the “shitheads” but isn’t that really a good thing to think about? In the end isn’t it best to “in a word, live” to be happy and to forgive and to not act like a shithead… just saying’

2 Responses

  1. terry suratt March 10, 2012 12:25 pmReply

    Thanks for sharing this, loved it!!

  2. Vanessa March 16, 2012 10:02 pmReply

    I like the perspective in this poem, the sense of what Neruda has to give at the culmination (the longer poem is about his testament/will) of his work. It reminds me of how the things that provoke the most anxiety–decisions to make, other people’s responses or opinions of us– look unrecognizable in hindsight. I particularly take to heart his gesture of leaving to Hate the ability to manifest–to create with one’s capacity and spirit a tangible good. Hate, envy, anxiety are such unproductive company. So much better to build, form, sow, plan, stretch, breathe.

    Keep the Neruda coming…

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