Pablo Neruda's Ode to the Air

Ode to the Air

Walking down a path
I met the air,
saluted it and said
“It makes me happy
that for once
you left your transparency,
let’s talk.”
He tirelessly
danced, moved leaves,
beat the dust
from my soles
with his laughter,
and lifting all
his blue rigging,
his skeleton of glass,
his eyelids’ breeze,
immobile as a mast
he stood listening to me.
I kissed the cape
of heaven’s king,
I wrapped myself
in his flag of sky
blue silk
and said:
king and comrade,
needle, corolla, bird,
I don’t know who you are but
I ask one thing –
don’t sell yourself.
The water sold itself
and from the desert’s
I’ve seen
the last drops
and the poor world, the people
walking with their thirst
staggering in the sand.
I saw the light
at night
the great light in the house
of the rich.
All is dawn in the
new hanging gardens,
all is dark
in the terrible
shadow of the valley.
From there, the night,
mother step mother,
goes out with a dagger in the midst
of her owl’s eyes,
and a scream, a crime,
arises and extinguishes,
swallowed by shadow.
No, air,
don’t sell yourself,
don’t be channeled,
don’t be entubed,
don’t be boxed,
don’t be stamped out in pills,
don’t be bottled,
be careful!
when you need me,
I am the poet son
of the poor, brother
in flesh and brother
in law
of the poor, of everywhere,
of my country and all the others,
of the poor who live on the river,
of those who live in the heights
of the vertical mountains,
break rock,
nail boards,
sew clothes,
cut wood,
haul earth,
and for this
I want them to breathe,
you are all they have,
this is why
you are
so they can see
what tomorrow brings,
for this
you exist,
catch your breath,
don’t shackle yourself,
don’t fix yourself to anyone
who comes in a car
to examine you,
leave them,
laugh at them,
flee from them through the shadows,
don’t accept
their propositions,
we’ll go together
dancing through the world,
knocking the blossoms
from the apple trees,
entering windows,
from yesterday and tomorrow,
the day is coming
when we will liberate
the light and the water,
earth and men,
and all will be
for all, as you are.
For this, for now,
be careful!
And come with me,
much remains
that dances and sings,
let’s go
the length of the sea,
to the height of the mountains,
let’s go
where the new spring
is flowering
and in one gust of wind
and song
we’ll share the flowers,
the scent, the fruit,
the air
of tomorrow.

Translated by Andrew Haley

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), received the Nobel Prize in 1971 in recognition of a body of poetry composed in celebration of the elemental and in protest of the cruelties he witnessed as a diplomat abroad, in exile, and in his native Chile, where his death twelve days after August Pinochet’s 1973 coup d’état was celebrated as an act of protest against the takeover.

March 24 is the anniversary of the 1976 military coup in neighboring Argentina. In seven years of military rule, tens of thousands of artists and intellectuals were targeted by state terror.

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beautiful @aeroalice

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Let’s go, where the new spring is flowering, we’ll share the air of tomorrow <3