Friday, October 23, 2009

Pablo Neruda Makes My Vocabulary Sob


To fully explain things let me say that I love Pablo Neruda in the kind of way that it almost feels as if the proper words don't exist. But they must exist, because he managed time and time and time again to find a combination of words to express the inexpressable. I'm starting on his "100 Love Sonnets" and I'm barely 2 sentences in, and these are the phrases that assault my temporal lobe. By the way, these aren't even the sonnets yet, people, this is just the dedication, to his wife, of course:

"When I set this task for myself, I knew very well that down the right sides of sonnets, with elegant discriminating taste, poets of all times have arranged rhymes that sound like silver, or crystal, or cannonfire. But-with great humility- I made these sonnets out of wood"

How is it possible that such eloquence can exist within the written word? How is it possible to say "listen, I'm just a man, but I love you so much, that I had to get it out on paper, at least 100 times" in such a way, that almost demands the tear ducts slowly open? It's so beautiful that the cynic inside of me almost hopes he's apologizing for something that never appears on the page, and adulterous liaison, a gaze that lingered too long on a woman that didn't belong to him, the fact that he only tipped 10 percent, anything really. Because, let's face it, at least to me, this borders on something close to perfection, and perfection is a difficult pill to swallow. Speaking of which, I need to take my vitamins. I wonder how Neruda would have discussed vitamins?

You are sustenance without taste
a wooden raft, tipping the tongue
Before descending down the dark
Towards the acidic dissolution

How was that? Not bad for off-the-cuff Neruda guestimation, huh? That would be a great game, think of all the ways Neruda would have described ordinary objects/activities and guess at what they are.
All I know is that in a world full of text jargon and unnecessary abbreviations, the reduction of language to singular phrases and syllables, in other words a reversal of linguistic knowledge until, I'm almost certain, in 20 years we'll once again be communicating in grunts, it's satisfying to know that men, of a certain age and at a certain time, are capable of:

"You and I, Love, together we ratify the silence,
while the sea destroys its perpetual statues,
collapses its towers of wild speed and whiteness" (Love Sonnet #9)

Also, if you don't have it already, you should buy the "Il Postino" soundtrack and be prepared for life to be exponentially more enjoyable.

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