I missed Valentine’s Day here, oops! For now let me leave one of my favourite Neruda poems (in English at Poemhunter):
No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio
o flecha de claveles que propagan el fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.
Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.
Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde,
te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,
sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía,
tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran (free at Feedbooks) is a beautiful, short piece consisting of 26 poems about various subjects. The prophet al-Mustafa is about to board a ship to return to his homeland after twelve years. But it seems he has had a great effect on the people of Orphalese, as they ask him for one last time to speak to them of life. It’s all very beautifully told:
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;For love is sufficient unto love. When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.” And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live.
You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts; And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime. And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered. For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.
Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing. Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness, And knows that yesterday is but to-day’s memory and to-morrow is to-day’s dream.
I just read Ballistics: Poems, Billy Collins’ newest book of poetry ($9.99 at Amazon). Billy Collins has always been my favourite contemporary poet, since I first read him in one of my high school creative writing classes. I’ve always particularly felt something special for his poem “On Turning Ten”. I don’t suppose I should post any of his poems in full on my blog, but here are some of the titles that I particularly loved from Ballistics:
- “The Four-Moon Planet” – how lovely and droll!
- “January in Paris”
- “Tension” – SO funny!
- “The Effort” – great commentary on high school English, haha
- “The Great American Poem”
There’s just something about Billy Collins’ voice that sounds SO familiar and so real. It’s hard to explain but I feel somehow that he’s telling me things I already knew but wouldn’t have known how to express properly.
These lines from “Vermont, Early November” made me laugh out loud though:
…and I took in the scene from a porch,
a tableau of silo and weathervane
and a crowd of ferns on the edge of the woods –
nothing worth writing about really,
but it is too late to stop now
that the ferns and the silo have been mentioned.