7/30/2008

Pablo Neruda on transforming self and enemy.

Transformation requires new grounding and sometimes poetry helps find that ground. In exploring the Archbishop of Canterbury's request that we work for the transformation in relations in communion, I find this poem by Pablo Neruda particularly helpful as meditation.



The Enemy, by Pablo Neruda, translated by Ben Belitt


My old enemy came to visit
today: a man hermetically sealed
in his truth, like a castle
or a strong-box,
with his own style of breathing
and a singular sword-play
sedulously stropped to draw blood.

I saw the years in his face:
the eyes of tired water,
the lines of his loneliness
that had lifted his temples
little by little to consummate self-love.

We chatted a while in
broad mid-day, in windy
explosions that scattered
the sun on all sides and struck at the sky.
But the man showed me only
his new set of keys, his one
way to all doors. Inside him,
I think he was silent,
indivisibly silent:
the flint of his soul
stayed impenetrable.

I thought of that stingy integrity
hopelessly buried, with power
to harm only himself;
and within me I knew
my own crude truths shamed.

So we talked – each of us
honing his steely convictions,
each tempered by time:
two blind men defending
their individual darkness.

(From New Poems 1968-70 by Pablo Neruda, Grove Press, Inc., New York 1972)

2 comments:

  1. This poetry freak says "Thank you!" for posting this, Fr. Mark. I, too, find poetry to be transformational--I think it's no accident that there is so much poetry in scripture.

    Pax,
    Doxy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you!

    I love Neruda and did not know this poem.

    As for the Anglican tradition: many of our best theologians are poets.

    Confessional statements written in treatise form and "covenants" in the same type of discursive language lose the rich texture of poetry. Yes, and also its symbolic and analogical imagination and its ambiguity. The literal(ist) mindset and the poetic mind are incompatible.

    ReplyDelete

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