pablo neruda’s poetic houses (+ his ‘ode to the present’)

Pablo Neruda Home La Chascona

Last October, we wrote about our friend’s advice to start the day reading something uplifting or illuminating rather than jumping online; since then, we’ve put the idea into practice. More often than not we read poetry, often out loud, and lately have found ourselves totally smitten with the odes of Pablo Neruda, which express a zen-like awareness of the detailed life around him. We love Ode to the Watermelon, and Ode to Things, and especially Ode to the Present (below), which we find puts us right HERE.

We wondered if Neruda’s life was a magical and sensuous as depicted in his poetry and in the movie Il Postino. Then yesterday, we stumbled on images of Neruda’s homes. Over the years, he had three: all with spectacular open views – charming, unique, whimsical, deeply personal spaces in lush surroundings. He named one “La Chascona”, a Quechua word meaning disorderly or disheveled – as an affectionate reference to the red curly hair of his third wife (go on a virtual tour of it here.) We read other descriptions as we looked at the pictures we found at the Pablo Neruda Foundation, of Isla Negra and La Sebastiana.  But the images speak for themselves – an insight into a poet’s personal style:
Pablo Neruda's home on Isla Negra

Pablo Neruda's home La Chascona

Pablo Neruda's Home Isla Negra

Ode to the Present

This
present moment,
smooth
as a wooden slab,
this
immaculate hour,
this day
pure
as a new cup
from the past–
no spider web
exists–
with our fingers,
we caress
the present;we cut it
according to our magnitude
we guide
the unfolding of its blossoms.
It is living,
alive–
it contains
nothing
from the unrepairable past,
from the lost past,
it is our
infant,
growing at
this very moment, adorned with
sand, eating from
our hands.
Grab it.
Don’t let it slip away.
Don’t lose it in dreams
or words.
Clutch it.
Tie it,
and order it
to obey you.
Make it a road,
a bell,
a machine,
a kiss, a book,
a caress.
Take a saw to its delicious
wooden
perfume.
And make a chair;
braid its
back;
test it.
Or then, build
a staircase!Yes, a
staircase.
Climb
into
the present,
step
by step,
press your feet
onto the resinous wood
of this moment,
going up,
going up,
not very high,
just so
you repair
the leaky roof.
Don’t go all the way to heaven.
Reach
for apples,
not the clouds.
Let them
fluff through the sky,
skimming passage,
into the past.You
are
your present,
your own apple.
Pick it from
your tree.
Raise it
in your hand.
It’s gleaming,
rich with stars.
Claim it.
Take a luxurious bite
out of the present,
and whistle along the road
of your destiny.

via Design Milk

Related posts: ‘What’s Not Wrong?’
louis c.k on being broke (with su tung-p’o)
the magic of guerilla poetry (become a poetry bomber)
poems as gifts: don wentworth’s ‘past all traps’
“guest” chair: a charming play on “guest book”

7 Responses to pablo neruda’s poetic houses (+ his ‘ode to the present’)

  1. Cara De Silva 02.27.2012 at 10:37am #

    I thank you from the bottom of my soul for starting my day with Neruda and this particular post. I was first introduced to his poetry years ago in Seville, thanks to a handsome Spanish student. Antonio and I were transported, by each other, and by Neruda. I have revered him ever since because every day after (whether reading him or not) his poetry has brought meaning to my life. I have yet to visit Chile, but his home calls to me. And I am so happy to have these pictures, side by side (at least metaphorically) with this great poem.

  2. Elizabeth 02.27.2012 at 2:42pm #

    Sigh, sigh, double sigh.

  3. Pamela 02.27.2012 at 3:45pm #

    How appropriate that you have posted “side by side” the images and text from Pablo Neruda with the video of the life-long collector. One of my favorite poems from Neruda has these opening lines:

    I have a crazy, crazy love of things.
    I like pliers,
    and scissors.
    I love
    cups,
    rings, and bowls —
    not to speak, of course,
    of hats.

    And on it goes on to list a myriad assortment of things he is passionate about, from keys to elevators. I suspect the man in the video would enjoy Neruda’s ode a great deal.

  4. Sally 02.27.2012 at 6:03pm #

    That’s his Ode to Things, mentioned in the post! If you follow the link, you can read the whole ode. Thanks, Pamela. Yeah, it’s perfect for that guy in the video.

  5. Miriam Kresh 02.28.2012 at 1:42am #

    Inspired by this post, I opened a new bookmark folder, “Poetry,” to fill with uplifting poems and open first thing after turning the computer on. Thank you, thanks to Cara-of-the-first-comment, whose FB post brought me here, and a deep thanks to the shade of Pablo Neruda.

  6. Beth Coughlin 02.28.2012 at 8:34pm #

    His particular love and vivacity for the simple beauties bring such a fresh wave of appreciation and gratitude to the soul! Neruda’s words have changed my mind and heart since studying him in Chile. May his words and his life continue to be celebrated! Thanks for posting this.

  7. Sabrina Rongstad Bravo 04.26.2013 at 8:18pm #

    Thank you ! I am doing a presentation for an Arts Meeting on Neruda and this link came up in my search.This is one of my favorite poems of Neruda. He also was friends with Garcia Lorca
    ( Spain)and Ruben Dario ( Nicaragua), both were said to have a great influence on his poetry. Read More ! http://www.learning-spanish-is-fun.blogspot.com/2010/05/nicaragua-land-of-poets_1034.html

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