Ode to Maize
America, from a grain
of maize you grew
with spacious lands
the ocean foam.
A grain of maize was your geography.
From the grain
a green lance rose,
was covered with gold,
to grace the heights
of Peru with its yellow tassels.
But, poet, let
history rest in its shroud;
praise with your lyre
the grain in its granaries:
sing to the simple maize in the kitchen.
First, a fine beard
fluttered in the field
above the tender teeth
of the young ear.
Then the husks parted
and fruitfulness burst its veils
of pale papyrus
that grains of laughter
might fall upon the earth.
To the stone,
in your journey,
Not to the terrible stone,
triangle of Mexican death,
but to the grinding stone,
stone of your kitchens.
There, milk and matter,
you were worked and patted
by the wondrous hands
of dark-skinned women.
Wherever you fall, maize,
whether into the
splendid pot of partridge, or among
country beans, you light up
the meal and lend it
your virginal flavor.
Oh, to bite into
the steaming ear beside the sea
of distant song and deepest waltz.
To boil you
as your aroma
But is there
to your treasure?
In chalky, barren lands
by the sea, along
the rocky Chilean coast,
only your radiance
reaches the empty
table of the miner.
Your light, your cornmeal, your hope
pervades America's solitudes,
and to hunger
are enemy legions.
Within your husks,
like gentle kernels,
our sober provincial
children's hearts were nurtured,
until life began
to shuck us from the ear.
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Comments about this poem (Ode to Maize by Pablo Neruda )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
Edna St. Vincent Millay
(22 February 1892 – 19 October 1950)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
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