“There’s Nothing in Neruda”

Blue Dawn

“There’s Nothing in Neruda”

There’s nothing in Neruda* that’s not been said,
No subtle hint, no helpful word, no turn
Of phrase, no bold assertion that to earn
A place beneath the skin one must be bled,
Detained, flattered in the stacks of libraries, betrayed,
A Caulfield** in search of what Bukowski***never found
in hopes of finding hidden pearls among
Unnatural grains of sand before the oyster’s song was ever sung,
And all before his cock crew thrice—You know he never paid
Beyond the going price.
Are we not forgetting something here?

The witnesses? Another round of hemlock, please! and as the academics cheer
the proceeds of yet another idle idyll, a second glass of wine, perhaps a clear
And unequivocable glance at the mirror sitting there to interpolate
the riddle loaves and fishes of enigma or the positive benefits of fear.
Ah, yes! Neruda may have told the tale, but who was he to give us hope,
And from what box he now quotes himself and never
gives a river’s damn about what it was he wrote?
Of course, I can’t be sure of it, but from here it looks
For all the world that in truth I am you
And you are me
and there’s the misery, the mystery, the view

That’s missing in the metaphors and similes, the clue refined from brooks
And seas, the bakers’ scales and finely tuned anomalies,
the national sport of news and fresh cacophanies, hooks
By which we are urgently define and hone  the truth askew
From certitude, and based in faith that  separates all from each, proved
Or unapproved in swarms of groups and nations, the accidental nooks
And crannies of every greatness, every generation, seminar, religion,
Clan and sanctified plan proposed, to accent ancient schools and families.
All experience expresses the inverse from Hammurabi to our beloved Ramses,
Seen as freaks and distant relatives and relegated to exceptions
With a shot of charisma or some other social clot, profusion
In the masses of exclusion throughout of all the spies of life that seek.
So much to say with so little time to speak,
Whether for the self or for the same in orderly confusion.
Still larger loans from banks of life’re sired from brothers,
Even greater obligations and demands from mountain peaks,
And beyond the heights, the snowy summons of the higher roads and streets.
The recreating lights that cut the edge of fear of sacrifice in grieving mothers
Leads the restive albatross to discover, possibly to smother
In the blasphemy of his own need and greener pastures elsewhere―
a weak and weaker Icarus―in search of tests that cannot keep
His lightnings’ glories save in darker South Georgian seas, blunders
To suspect within his breast and nothing when at last he sleeps:
He discovers little more than what the drop within the puddle seeks.

*Chilean poet and diplomat, Pablo Naruda [12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973]
**Character from the novel The Catcher in the Rye, a 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger
***German born American poet Charles Bukovski [August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994]

…Art at the top of this post, Liu Bolin 刘勃麟 – Photography of China


2 responses to ““There’s Nothing in Neruda”

  1. I sometimes wonder if writers don’t have an “incestuous” relationship with other writers; we read their writing not as readers, as intended, but as intimate reflections and reactive shadows. Our minds are tongues that taste the method of the served dish and question the proportion of every spice rendering it often a stew never noticed by the intended audience. James Joyce, for example; most would say: “Waste of time… too unreadable.” But I find myself answering: “Yes, but he is so WONDERFULLY unreadable!” Anyway, I think I sense the conundrum you are painting here and I too have pondered over novelists and poets and wondered aloud if they stumbled miserably or sparked the very stars with their words. I am sure that most writers who arrive at a monastery on their knees and genuinely beg for help are quickly told: “First off: stop writing. Words are your weakness.”

    • I have to admit, though I doubt I would be so quick and glib presently in condemning to oblivion the whole of Joyce [except The Dubliners], and have done so for the same reasons as his critics which you put so “WONDERFULLY” in your comment to me have done. I would find it difficult to even open my mouth in that way about anyone’s writing at present. The reason for the about face on that subject is simple. Since those earlier years, I have encountered other works which affected me in the same way, but which for one personal reason or another I actually labouriously put myself the task of reading, at the rate of one page or possibly two per day, until at last, a month or two later, I came to that wondrous moment, a kind of catharsis willingly or unwillingly with both works that I suspect few readers experience but to which all readers in one way or another aspire, namely that both incidents had me on the floor for hours, the mind elevated, the heart infatuated, the soul moved.

      There is no need to go into detail here and now concerning these two works, but whatever “it” is that I get when reading my own sonnets while reading them months or even years after I’ve written them, was present in spades once I got to that point at which the writers pulled out all the stops but only after dragging me through the jungle of their words to the delivery of what it was I am sure they intended to deliver in the only way they knew how. If either is a waste of time, the thought is still arrested by the consciousness of the fact that I was never the same after these readings either because my own experience was matched and even exceeded by what it was I read. Numinisum, perhaps? I have been as impressed with certain giant souls I’ve known in life, and most certainly in the discovery of the worlds Scriptures. These are far and few between, of course, but definitely still hold with my own experience, and, as it happens, I sense that the same is true for you.

      The first of these works was The Ambassadors by Henry James; the second (and the one that came to mind while reading your comment about Joyce) was The Death of Virgil, by Hermann Brock. If I had two good eyes rather that the one good one that remains to me after an occlusion in the main artery of the other, I would most definitely read the first and yet definitely not reread the second. Brock, by the way, was a friend of Joyce and was sponsored by Joyce to get out of a concentration camp in Austria in 1938 and into first England and thence to America during World War II and thereafter. If either is presently a “Waste of time… too unreadable…,” it is that the world as it was experienced and narrated by Henry James no longer exists, and unless a man be nearer to death than I have been, Brock’s 500-page continuously flowing poem must mean close to nothing to a reader who still fancies he is in control of both his destiny and ultimate fate by dint of hubris and absolute ignorance when it comes to the subtlety of God in bringing all of us to nothingness in the end and everything the ultimate catharsis of the realisation of eternity met sans both ëgo and hubris altogether.

      The works of Hesse, Wilder, Edgar Lee Masters, Frost, and others write with the same intensity as Brock, but one does not need to be near dead or dying to interact with them. Each suffers from the same intense scrutiny as did James and each is limited by the scope of the time in which they wrote, times which are all but splintered by the weight of the greater intensity of a 7,000,000,000-souled population as opposed to the one or two billion that peopled the earth in their respective times.

      Finally, re: “most writers who arrive at a monastery on their knees and genuinely beg for help are quickly told: “First off: stop writing. Words are your weakness.” For the overwhelming majority of writers, the monks’ reply, “First off: stop writing. Words ire your weakness,” is most meet and seemly since those seeking solace in a monastery, do so in weakness and defeat at the hands of their fellow inmates or more specifically themselves [as opposed to God, Himself.] Their words are those of others filtered, their experience in life, vicarious at best; these cannot be called writers for this reason, since their words are not used as a medium for creativity but mere repetition of what they have heard or seen in the medium of others. For writers who by extension are in fact artists, the accusation that words, their medium, are their weaknesses, this is tantamount to condemning God based upon the critics’ hubris in judgments passes upon His Creation, in short, the critics own blasphemy and definitely a result of never having tasted Creation, Its virtues, or even life itself. For these, yes, a common stew, nothing more nor less and all the result of having missed the point of life, itself, which is to live and pass the compliments to the Chef.

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