Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Inspiration: Keeping Quiet

One of the joys of sharing some of my favorite inspiration with you this week is that they are truly favorites, comfortable old friends who bring me such joy to revisit them. I've seen several different translations of this simple Neruda poem, each with a slightly different meaning. This one is soft and gentle yet intense and powerful, evocative, I feel, of the message Neruda was trying to convey. All I know is that whenever I hear it, I just want to be still and sink into the quiet and peace that is always present within me.

Keeping Quiet
by Pablo Neruda

And now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas,
wars with fire,
victory with no survivors, would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
(Life is what it is about,
I want no truck with death.)

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve,
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Photo: "Stillness," originally uploaded by Diana Andreea Mărgărit

No comments: