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Ode to Broken Things | Poem by Pablo Neruda


 
Pablo Neruda
translated by Jodey Bateman

 
ODE TO BROKEN THINGS
 
Things get broken 
at home 
like they were pushed 
by an invisible, deliberate smasher. 
It's not my hands 
or yours 
It wasn't the girls 
with their hard fingernails 
or the motion of the planet. 
It wasn't anything or anybody 
It wasn't the wind 
It wasn't the orange-colored noontime 
Or night over the earth 
It wasn't even the nose or the elbow 
Or the hips getting bigger 
or the ankle 
or the air. 
The plate broke, the lamp fell 
All the flower pots tumbled over 
one by one. That pot 
which overflowed with scarlet 
in the middle of October, 
it got tired from all the violets 
and another empty one 
rolled round and round and round 
all through winter 
until it was only the powder 
of a flowerpot, 
a broken memory, shining dust. 

And that clock 
whose sound 
was 
the voice of our lives, 
the secret 
thread of our weeks, 
which released 
one by one, so many hours 
for honey and silence 
for so many births and jobs, 
that clock also 
fell 
and its delicate blue guts 
vibrated 
among the broken glass 
its wide heart 
unsprung. 

Life goes on grinding up 
glass, wearing out clothes 
making fragments 
breaking down 
forms 
and what lasts through time 
is like an island on a ship in the sea, 
perishable 
surrounded by dangerous fragility 
by merciless waters and threats. 

Let's put all our treasures together 
-- the clocks, plates, cups cracked by the cold -- 
into a sack and carry them 
to the sea 
and let our possessions sink 
into one alarming breaker 
that sounds like a river. 
May whatever breaks 
be reconstructed by the sea 
with the long labor of its tides. 
So many useless things 
which nobody broke 
but which got broken anyway. 


 
back to Jodey
back to Pablo
home to Moongate

 
 
 

Other Jodey Bateman translations of Pablo Neruda:
I'll Explain Some Things
Soneto LXXIII
What Spain Was Like
An Ode For Ironing
Beasts
Ode to a Woman Gardening
Ode To Bird Watching
Ode to Broken Things
Ode to Clothing / Oda al Traje
Ode to Olive Oil / Oda al Aceite
Ode to Some Yellow Flowers
Ode to the Artichoke
Ode to the Dictionary
Ode to the Lemon
Ode to the Piano
Ode to the Smell of Wood
Opium In The East (excerpt)
Poem Twenty
GAUTAMA CHRIST
For Everybody
From the Heights of Maccho Picchu
Poems by Pablo Neruda, Pulitizer Prize winner
Statues
Status Report
The Arrival in Madrid
The Heavenly Poets
The Old Women of the Ocean
The Turtle
To Sit Down
To the Foot From Its Child
Triangles

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