Bird (Pablo Neruda)

June 10, 2008

It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air –
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography –
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.

* * *
If Neruda was aware of anything, it was the “gift of the day.” He saw how news of it passed from one bird to another like a conversation of which none are excluded, not even birds, not even stones. It seems to me the entirety of Neruda’s poetry is about this conversation, this singing of one creature, one object, to another. It is as if the newly lit creation each morning celebrates wildly its good news, whispering, one to another, “pass it on.”

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