Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Neruda's words

Pablo Neruda has intrigued many with the way he weaves through his poem through words. Words are his tools; words are his air that he breathes; words are the sand grains that he walks past; words are the rain drops that wake up the dead Earth beneath his feet, leaving them colourful.

In his memoirs, which is often touted to be his best literary work, Neruda talks about his love for words, and with love, he presents to our mind's eye the beauty whom he never ceased to love, and the way he would love to love those words. Here are Neruda's own words:

"You can say anything you want, yessir, but it's the words that sing, they soar and descend . . . I bow to them . . . I love them, I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them, I melt them down . . . I love words so much . . . The unexpected ones . . . The ones I wait for greedily or stalk until, suddenly, they drop . . . Vowels I love . . . They glitter like colored stones, they leap like silver fish, they are foam, thread, metal, dew . . . I run after certain words . . . They are so beautiful that I want to fit them all into my poem . . . I catch them in midflight, as they buzz past, I trap them, clean them, peel them, I set myself in front of the dish, they have a crystalline texture to me, vibrant, ivory, vegetable, oily, like fruit, like algae, like agates, like olives . . . And I stir them, I shake them, I drink them, I gulp them down, I mash them, I garnish them, I let them go . . . I leave them in my poem like stalactites, like slivers of polished wood, like coals, pickings from a shipwreck, gifts from the waves . . . Everything exists in the word . . ."

Why is it then so difficult for us too to fall in love this way with words? Why are we sometimes waiting for moments when we could be possessed by a desire to do something to those words, with those words? Why do we wait for an inspiration, a revelation, a premonition, an admonition -- why do we wait for an idea to seize us so that we can seize words?

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