Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The White Bee by Pablo Neruda

I'm reading Neruda more and more these days. What's the point of life if we don't have time for poetry and love? Politics and philosophy don't satisfy alone, they're not enough. John Stuart Mill had a nervous breakdown once before he came to that realisation. Wordsworth saved him, I've made a mental note to read him too. For now, Neruda. Because love is messy, uncomfortable, inconvenient and utterly unpredictable. You can almost smell the sweat and tears mingled with smoke in his poetry.

White bee, you buzz in my soul, drunk with honey,
and your flight winds in slow spirals of smoke.

I am the one without hope, the word without echoes,
he who lost everything and he who had everything.

Last hawser, in you creaks my last longing.
In my barren land you are the final rose.

Ah you who are silent!

Let your deep eyes close, There the night flutters.
Ah your body, a frightened statue, naked.

You have deep eyes in which the night flails.
Cool arms of flowers and a lap of rose.

Your breasts seem like white snails.
A butterfly of shadow has come to rest on your belly.

Ah you who are silent!

Here is the solitude from which you are absent.
It is raining. The sea wind is hunting stray gulls.

The water walks barefoot in the wet streets.
From that tree the leaves complain as though they were sick.

White bee, even when you are gone you buzz in my soul.
You live again in time, slender and silent.

Ah you who are silent!

My favourite line is where he says "I am the one without hope, the word without echoes, he who lost everything and he who had everything". To read this is one thing, but to have felt it first and find this expression of what you thought nobody else knew is priceless. By the way a hawser is the thick rope used to tow ships. She's basically his last hope, the creaking that happens when the rope gets tense is that hope coming under strain. Wow, just wow.

Maybe I'm getting old. To hell with it.


Jonathan Shannon said...

Lovely commentary on a beautiful poem. In the face of brutality, appreciation for beauty is an act of resistance.

Unknown said...

Yes. This.