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Pablo Neruda

(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973 / Parral / Chile)

Walking Around


It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie
houses
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.

The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse
sobs.
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.

It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.

Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the cold.

I don't want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.

I don't want so much misery.
I don't want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.

That's why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the
night.

And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist
houses,
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.

There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical
cords.

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic
shops,
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling.


Translated by Robert Bly

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Rookie Interstellar Overdrive (2/22/2008 7:16:00 PM)

    amazingly this man belives in the spontaneous sense of inspiration but in his work like this one, adding coherence in a random manne, r express the unavoidable talent he possesses with the manipulation of words to create imagery with even the flow of words, ignoring the sensory details of the meaning of the words
    this is one of my favorite poems hes written: D (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Thyme Siegel (5/30/2007 6:53:00 PM)

    eerily beautiful i love this poem. it almost ginsberg-esque, the crude loose imagery. it's amazing the darkness and the harshness. etching at the raw figure of humanity and tearing his soul into shards of insanity he breaths into the world the stifling hotness mirroring around and laying to rest in complete helplessness. i can't save the last weeping tune of loneliness because we humans we foes we lovers must scratch the bitter ends and read infinite syllables of painful, sinful, lustful, repulsive starry confusion. (Report) Reply

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