"Keeping Quiet" by Pablo Neruda

Knowing the last year has been a brutal one for this writer, Deanna, a wonderful friend of mine from California, sent me this Neruda poem. It is exquisitely healing. And so, for the first time in this blog’s history, another writer’s words take center stage. After you read them, I think you’ll agree that is exactly where they belong.

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 one 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 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 to twelve

And you keep quiet and I will go.



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