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Ode to the Piano

by Pablo Neruda, translated by Jodey Bateman

The piano was sad
during the concert,
forgotten in its gravedigger's coat,
and then it opened its mouth,
its whale's mouth:
the pianist entered the piano
flying like a crow;
something happened as if a stone
of silver fell
or a hand
into a hidden
pond:
the sweetness slid
like rain
over a bell,
the light fell to the bottom
of a locked house,
an emerald went across the abyss
and the sea sounded,
the night,
the meadows,
the dewdrop,
the deepest thunder,
the structure of the rose sang,
the milk of dawn surrounded the silence.

That's how the music was born
from the piano which was dying,
the garment
of the water-nymph
moved up over the coffin
and from its set of teeth
all unaware
the piano, the pianist
and the concert fell,
and everything became sound,
an elemental torrent,
a pure system, a clear bell ringing.

Then the man returned
from the tree of music.
He flew down like
a lost crow
or a crazy knight:
the piano closed its whale's mouth
and the pianist walked back from it
towards the silence.

(translator and editrix dedicate this page to our favorite piano man Ragtime Roger)

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