Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Poem of the Week 12/31/2007: Ode to a Chestnut on the Ground

Ode to a Chestnut on the Ground

Out of the bristling foliage
you fell
polished wood,
glistening mahogany,
as a violin that has just
been born in the treetops
and falls
offering the gifts locked inside it,
its hidden sweetness,
finished in secret among
birds and leaves,
school of form,
lineage of firewood and flour,
oval instrument
that holds in its structure
unblemished delight and edible rose.
Up there, you abandoned
the bristling husk
that half-opened its barbs
in the light of the chestnut tree,
through that opening
you saw the world,
filled with syllables,
and down below
the heads of boys
and girls,
grasses that fluttered restlessly,
smoke that rises and rises.
You made up your mind,
chestnut, and you leapt down to earth,
burnished and prepared,
firm and smooth
as a small breast
in teh islands of America.
You fell
the ground
nothing happened,
the grass
went on fluttering, the old
chestnut tree whispered like the mouths
of a hundred trees,
one leaf fell from red autumn,
steadily the hours kept on working
upon the earth.
Because you are
a seed:
chestnut tree, autumn, earth,
water, heights, silence
prepared the embryo,
the floury thickness,
the maternal eyelids,
which, buried, will open again
toward the heights
the simple magnificence
of foliage,
the dark, damp network
of new roots,
the ancient and new dimensions
of another chestnut tree on earth.

Pablo Neruda 1954
trans. Stephen Mitchell

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