Friday, April 27, 2007

Ode to a Lemon by Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda is well known for his odes to everything from socks to a large tuna. His work exemplifies how poetry can be used to celebrate beauty. Note how the poem is structured: as with most lyric poems, instead of moving forward through time or telling a story, Ode to a Lemon orbits a central idea/image.


Out of lemon flowers
loosed
on the moonlight, love's
lashed and insatiable
essences,
sodden with fragrance,
the lemon tree's yellow
emerges,
the lemons
move down
from the tree's planetarium

Delicate merchandise!
the harbors are big with it-
bazaars
for the light and the
barbarous gold.
We open
the halves
of a miracle,
and a clotting of acids
brims
into the starry
divisions:
creation's
original juices,
irreducible, changeless,
alive:
so the freshness lives on
in a lemon,
in the sweet-smelling house of the rind,
the proportions, arcane and acerb.

Cutting the lemon
the knife
leaves a little cathedral:
alcoves unguessed by the eye
that open acidulous glass
to the light; topazes
riding the droplets,
altars,
aromatic facades.
So, while the hand
holds the cut of the lemon,
half a world
on a trencher,
the gold of the universe
wells
to your touch:
a cup yellow
with miracles,
a breast and a nipple
perfuming the earth;
a flashing made fruitage,
the diminutive fire of a planet.


Born Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda led a life charged with poetic and political activity. In 1923 he sold all of his possessions to finance the publication of his first book, Crepusculario ("Twilight"). He published the volume under the pseudonym "Pablo Neruda" to avoid conflict with his family, who disapproved of his occupation. The following year, he found a publisher for Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada ("Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair"). The book made a celebrity of Neruda, who gave up his studies at the age of twenty to devote himself to his craft. He died in 1973.

14 Comments:

Blogger skaterina said...

my favorite Pablo Neruda "ode" is the one for Tomatoes !

love this one too

9:44 AM  
Anonymous jfm said...

Lovely - who translated it? Is it still in print? I've always wanted a nice collection of his poems in English.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Anthony said...

Neruda's odes are amazing. I only wish I could write something so sublime. Thanks for sharing. His ode to socks is great too. Check out http://www.redpoppy.net/pablo_neruda.php for a Neruda project my friend is working on. I think you would enjoy it.

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