i’ve just completed two small collections of poetry, one of which had sat for years, perched on my shelf patiently waiting for me to muster up the energy to give it its full due.
it’s fittingly entitled plenos poderes by pablo neruda. occasionally, when i’m feeling extra enthusiastic, i purchase the bilingual edition of books. historically, this hasn’t worked out in my favor (apologies borges), but this particular edition is quite slight and therefore seemed more possible. how easily size deceived me.
i averaged about a poem a day for 30 days. i would be exhausted after wading through my tenses, cheating with the english diction where my vocabulario failed me. occasionally, i would have to hide the right pages with my hand just to block the temptation and force myself to think through line by line, stanza by stanza. that english language, that little unaccented minx always winking at me out of the corners of my right hand.
many times, i would circle back and retrace passages as words evolved in meaning given their new contexts. like they were moving, changing addresses, adopting new styles and moods. is that a new haircut? did you lose weight? did things not work out with ‘o’, and is that ‘e’ i see hanging off your arm now?
in any case, neruda is exciting to read in english or spanish or in my case, both (there are worse things that linguistic infidelity). i can’t quite describe how it feels to read him — like i’m rushing forward and need to catch my breath. that life is short and emotional and excessively ripe.
he is delicious like a peach.
the second collection of poetry is also not natively written in english. monologue of a dog by wislawa szymborska who passed away recently. i actually also bought a bilingual edition – but given that it’s in polish, there was not the same struggle that existed with neruda. english was my only friend in this reading. in fact, i actually picked up and completed monologue while i was halfway through neruda to give myself a mental break.
she reminds me very much of kay ryan meets yeats and possibly a tinge updike in her sparseness and playful ponderance. there is a certain sense of wonder and she’s quite fun. i think i will reread this edition many times. often times i pick up a book of poetry and start in the middle or at the end or i put it on shuffle and almost certainly always, on repeat.
she is wonderful like a marble.