dark

Ruminations for a dark rainy morning

Nothing But Death
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

There are cemeteries that are lonely,
graves full of bones that do not make a sound,
the heart moving through a tunnel,
in it darkness, darkness, darkness,
like a shipwreck we die going into ourselves,
as though we were drowning inside our hearts,
as though we lived falling out of the skin into the soul.

And there are corpses,
feet made of cold and sticky clay,
death is inside the bones,
like a barking where there are no dogs,
coming out from bells somewhere, from graves somewhere,
growing in the damp air like tears of rain.

Sometimes I see alone
coffins under sail,
embarking with the pale dead, with women that have dead hair,
with bakers who are as white as angels,
and pensive young girls married to notary publics,
caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead,
the river of dark purple,
moving upstream with sails filled out by the sound of death,
filled by the sound of death which is silence.

Death arrives among all that sound
like a shoe with no foot in it, like a suit with no man in it,
comes and knocks, using a ring with no stone in it, with no
finger in it,
comes and shouts with no mouth, with no tongue, with no
throat.
Nevertheless its steps can be heard
and its clothing makes a hushed sound, like a tree.

I'm not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,
but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,
of violets that are at home in the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the look death gives is green,
with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf
and the somber color of embittered winter.

But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom,
lapping the floor, looking for dead bodies,
death is inside the broom,
the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses,
it is the needle of death looking for thread.

Death is inside the folding cots:
it spends its life sleeping on the slow mattresses,
in the black blankets, and suddenly breathes out:
it blows out a mournful sound that swells the sheets,
and the beds go sailing toward a port
where death is waiting, dressed like an admiral.

Translated and edited by Robert Bly, published in 1993

Stanza 6 really speaks to me this morning: “But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom, lapping the floor, looking for dead bodies, death is inside the broom, the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses, it is the needle of death looking for thread.”

Maybe it’s the image of Death in my scraggly broom, but this verse made me chuckle a little.

On the lighter side of the dark, Younger Child has in recent years decided that Halloween is one of her favourite holidays (after Christmas), so of course, we had to have a little celebration.

Notes:

17 Comments

  1. I’ve always like Neruda’s poetry. This one is dark, but provocative. I wrote about a graveyard this week, too. Seems to be the time of year to do so. For obvious reasons.

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    1. It certainly is the time of year for this – thank you for mulling over this poem and sharing in my ruminations.
      I’m off to view your graveyard post!

      Like

  2. That poem is so sombre, it gives me goosebumps! Love your Header photo, and those pastries with eyes made me smile, Ju-Lyn. My daughter made cheesy bat biscuits and dark chocolate coffin cakes, decorated with white chocolate skulls. She loves it too!

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    1. I did think the poem & graves fitted the vibe.
      I love Halloween goodies!!! I can well imagine the cheesy bat biscuits, but I am fascinated by the thought of coffin cakes.

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    1. I haven’t read many of Neruda’s poetry either, but I was very much taken by this one. And I was fascinated that Robert Bly is as well-recognised as a translator of important poems as well as a renowned poet in his own right.

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