Monthly Archives: April 2020

Pandemic. laurawrites shares a poem: Keeping Quiet. Pablo Neruda Speaks.

This is my first post in almost five years. I thought, though I never committed to the idea, that I was done with this blog. We are in the midst of a worldwide health pandemic. You know what is going on. Being in contact with human beings has never been any more important than now and Facebook has hardly ever seemed less appealing to me in its corporation-ness. I am home with my family–my now-18-year-old and my partner, M., like I was often when I started this blog.

I came across this poem, by a favorite poet of mine, now long dead. Pablo Neruda. I have turned to him so many times for so many reasons. Neruda could not have envisioned this particular moment, but he had something important to say about this time.

Keeping Quiet

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Pablo Neruda is a Chilean poet, who started writings poems at the age of 13. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971.