pablo neruda on the creative process

A while back, we accidentally ordered a book of poems by the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. We love his poetry, especially his odes, but weren’t crazy about the selections in this particular book. Or so we thought. We’ve discovered that opening it randomly often yields treasures we could have sworn weren’t there when we first looked through it.

Recently, we stumbled on a poem about how poetry “arrived” in Neruda’s life one day.  To us, it perfectly describes the way the creative process often happens: an idea appears, sparks…tiny often at first… but if listened and attended to — however tentative and bumpy the start —  it can become an illuminating and nourishing path.

And it was at that age … Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

It can happen to anybody.

One Response to pablo neruda on the creative process

  1. suzy lowinger 10.09.2012 at 9:53am #

    today has been something of a rough day as i sift and sort through a decision making process regarding some difficult cancer process i will probably have to do. and then comes pablo neruda…thank you pablo neruda…what a poem!!!! your kindness swept through my heart….thank you

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