Saturday, April 30, 2011

At the Close of April

It's been raining for several hours, just a light rain, but it seems to be greening up out there as I watch. The leaves on the lilac bushes are finally emerging, and several trees are showing promise. I am looking forward to a bouquet of lilacs on my kitchen table.

When I moved back to Minnesota, I gave away a collection of old green vases, you probably know the ones, in a variety of shapes, sizes and designs. I briefly wondered if it had been the right decision when I saw all the flower beds here, but the day I arrived, I found that inside a cupboard, a green vase had been left behind. It was exactly like one of those I had given away the summer before. It will do just fine.

And so, it is the end of National Poetry Month, though I will continue to read one each day as I have been doing for some time. I often find they take the form of a prayer, a way to begin or end a day.

Last week, I was visiting with a friend who happened to mention one of her recent discoveries, a new poem that she enjoyed very much, simply titled, "Socks."  It was by Pablo Neruda. He is a Chilean poet, now passed on, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. I had occasionally read a poem by him over the years, but none seemed to really grab me and so I moved on. After she mentioned him, I decided to find the poem she was referring to and give him another listen. When I read poetry, I feel as though I am listening to the poet, really hearing them speak the words they've written. It brings the poem to life for me. While I was reading, I came across another of his poems that I liked very much. Several lines stood out, leaving me with a feeling of wholeness, like a complete idea had been set forth. I decided to share it in honor of the closing of April.

"Keeping Quiet'

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let's not speak any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn't be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren't unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,

if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I'll go.

~ Pablo Neruda

Andrew Wyeth   "Distant Thunder"


  1. Great post. I like the picture very fitting with the end.

  2. Hello Teresa:
    A perfect match, the poem and the season about to burst into new life. Yes, we can imagine the sprays of Lilac scenting the house, albeit briefly.

    Lovely. Happy Weekend!

  3. Josh, Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I had fun putting together the different elements.

    Jane and Lance, Lilacs last such a short time once picked, but what an intoxicating scent it is.

  4. I sat on the terrace today, in warm sunshine, in between bouts of frantic and hard gardening, enjoying the scent of a lilac bush in full flower.
    I haven't cut any because they last so much longer on the bush than in a vase but maybe I'll steal one or two sprigs for Sunday.

    I read poetry every day all the time. I know what you mean by not getting on with Neruda at times, but there are some of his poems which really speak to me.

  5. Hi Friko, Sitting on the terrace in warm sunshine sounds wonderful. It's cold and gloomy here. Yes, they always fade quickly once picked, but I cannot resist a small bouquet. It's nice to have a bit of lilac scent in the house if just for a day.

    Poetry makes life richer and fuller, doesn't it?

  6. Hugs to you, Teresa. A wonderful poem to end the poetry month with. Yes, lots of hugs.

  7. There is wonderful wisdom in this poem, and a gentle sense of humor.

  8. Jan, Thank you so much.

    Nancy, It's a nice combo, isn't it?

  9. I commented earlier and it just vanished...hmmm. Anyway, I wrote that I'm not much into poetry, but really liked this one. I also mentioned that spring has finally sprung here in the KC area and all the chores I've been getting done. I just love spring...

  10. Hey Lynn, I didn't see it. Sometimes that happens here in Bloggerville. It's still pretty cool temps here and now this evening, wind, too, and possibly a bit of snow. It's feeling like the winter that will not end. Aaargh.

  11. I love the story of the green vase. Love the poem. It should be mandatory that we have big pauses in life at the same time. We seem to be on a crazy merry-go-round ..sort of - lets sit down and try to get this living on earth right. Thank you. (I always read poetry aloud.)

  12. Joan, Oooh, I love your comment. Yes, let's pause and get it right. Wouldn't that be awfully nice?

  13. Pablo Neruda was an incredible poet. His poems, like those of the other greats, will last on for as long as people read. There is something so visceral and yet intelligent about the the way he frames thoughts and ideas.

    Glad you found an old green vase. Isn't it wonderful how things "appear" when we need them!

  14. Hi Bill, I'm glad I gave him another read. I like your description of his writing.

    It is, indeed, wonderful. It seems to be happening with greater frequency or I'm paying closer attention. So many things were left here that I've found to be the exact thing I need for my life here. It's worth a post in itself someday.