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POETRY - PABLO NERUDA

Here are several poems by Pablo Neruda, one of my favorite poets. I selected the following poems since they are related to clothing. Clothing can certainly be taken as something superficial and frivolous, but so can everything else in life. It depends on one's attitude.

Clothing (not necessarily fashion), an every day thing can also be viewed and experienced as poetry, with emotion and wonder. The following poems may clear a way for thinking about clothing, as well as any other every day thing and occurrence in a different light. Maybe sacred really lies in the ordinary. Perhaps superficial can be taken to a different level.


ODE TO A PAIR OF SOCKS

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
that she knit with her
shepherd's hands.
Two socks as soft
as rabbit fur.
I thrust my feet 
inside them
as if they were
two
little boxes
knit
from threads
of sunset
and sheepskin.

My feet were 
two woolen 
fish
in those outrageous socks
two gangly,
navy- blue sharks
impaled
on a golden thread,
two giant blackbirds,
two cannons:
thus
were my feet
honored
by
those
heavenly
socks.
They were
so beautiful
I found my feet
unlovable
for the firs time,
like two crust old 
firemen, firemen
unworthy
of that embroidered
fire,
those incandescent
socks.

Nevertheless
I fought 
the sharp temptation
to put them away
the way schoolboys
put
fireflies in a bottle,
the way scholars
hoard
holy writ.
I fought 
the mad urge
to lock them 
in a golden 
cage
and feed them birdseed
and morsels of pink melon
every day.
Like jungle
explorers
who deliver a young deer
of the rarest species
to the roasting spit
than wolf it down
in shame
I stretched 
my feet forward
and pulled on
those
gorgeous
socks,
and over them
my shoes.

So this is 
the moral of my ode:
beauty is beauty
twice over
and good things are doubly
good
when you're talking about a pair of wool
socks
in the dead of winter.
Pablo Neruda


ODE TO MY SUIT

Every morning, suit,
you are waiting on a chair
to be filled
with my vanity, my love, 
my hope, my body.
Still
only half awake
I leave the shower
to shrug into your sleeves,
my legs seek
the hollow of your legs,
and thus embraced 
by your unfailing loyalty
I take my morning walk
work my way into my poetry;
from my window I see 
the things
men, women,
events and struggles
constantly shaping me,
constantly confronting me, 
setting my hands to the task,
opening my eyes,
creasing my lips,
and the same way,
suit,
I am shaping you,
poking out my elbows,
wearing you threadbare, and so your life grows,
in the image of my own.
In the wind
you flap and hum
as if you were my soul,
in bad moments
you cling
to my bones,
abandoned, at nighttime
darkness and dream
people with their phantoms
your wings and mine.
I wonder
whether some day
an enemy
bullet
will stain you with my blood,
for then
you would die with me, 
but perhaps
it will be less dramatic,
simple,
and you will grow ill,
suit,
with me,
grow older
with me, with my body
and together we will be lowered
into the earth.
That's why
every day
I greet you
with respect and than 
you embrace me and I forget you,
because we are one being
and shell be always
in the wind, trough the night,
the streets and the struggle,
one body,
maybe, maybe, one day, still.
Pablo Neruda

ODE TO A PAIR OF SCISSORS

Prodigious,
scissors
(looking like
birds, or
fish),
you are as polished as a knight's
shining armor.

Two long and treacherous
knives
crossed and bound together
for all time,
two
tiny rivers
joined:
thus was born a creature for cutting,
 a fish that swims among billowing lines,
a bird that flies 
through 
barbershops.

Scissors 
that smell
of
my seamstress
aunt's
hands
when their vacant
metal eye
spied on
our
cramped
childhood,
tattling
to the neighbors
about our thefts of plums and kisses.

There,
in the house, nested in their corner the scissors crossed
our lives, 
and oh so
many lengths of
fabric
that they cut and kept on cutting:
for newlyweds and the dead,
for newborns and hospital wards.
They cut
and kept on cutting
also the peasant's 
hair
as though
as a plant that clings to rock,
and flags
soon
stained and scorched
by blood and flame,
and vine
stalks in winter,
and the cord
of 
voices
on the telephone.

A long lost pair of scissors
cut your mother's
thread
from your navel
and handed you for all time
your separate existence.  
Another pair, not necessarily
somber,
will one day cut
the suit you wear to your grave.

Scissors 
have gone 
everywhere,
they've explored the world
snipping off pieces of
happiness
and sadness
indifferently.
Everything has been material
for scissors to shape:
The tailor's
giant
scissors,
as lovely as schooners,
and very small ones
for trimming nails
in the shape of waning moon,
and the surgeon's
slender
submarine scissors
that cut the complications
and the knot that not have grown inside of you.

Now, I'll cut this ode short
with the scissors 
of good sense,
so that it won't be too long or too short,
so that it
will
fit in your pocket
smoothed and folded
like
a pair
of scissors.

Pablo Neruda

FABLE OF THE MERMAID AND THE DRUNKS

All these fellows were there inside
when she entered, utterly naked.
They had been drinking, and begun to spit at her.
Recently come from the river, she understood nothing.
She was a mermaid who had lost her way.

The taunts flowed over her glistening flesh.
Obscenities drenched her golden breasts. 
A stranger to tears, she did not weep.
A stranger to clothes, she did not dress.
They pocked her with cigarette ends and with burnt corks,
and rolled on the tavern floor in raucous laughter.

She did not speak, since speech was unknown to her.
Her eyes were the color of faraway love,
her arms were matching topazes.
Her lips moved soundlessly in coral light,
and ultimately, she left by that door.

Hardly had she entered the river than she was cleansed,
gleaming once more like a white stone in the rain;
and without a backward look, she swam once more,
swam towards nothingness, swam to her dying.

Pablo Neruda


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