Day 62 – Pablo Neruda’s Ode To Valparaíso

It seems still an almost graspable physical memory of visiting Pablo Neruda’s Santiago residence some sixty days ago when this jolly jaunt through South America began. All too fittingly, coming full circle, today we pay homage to Pablo’s Valparaíso residence.

It is an easy walk from our abode along the almost top tier of this town built on hills alone. Pablo’s house rests in a less ‘in your face with Valparaíso life’ part of town. I imagine myself invited to one of Pablo’s New Year fireworks parties. Standing near a window watching the pop pop of colourful waterfalls across the sky, sipping on a Pisco (of course) all the while trying to interpret the Spanish people are directing at me in a speed saved only for the locals. I smile and nod, then make my way to the bar for another Pisco.

It is easy to understand Pablo’s love of Valparáiso. Falling into this misshapen, yet vibrant way of life one learns to indulge in the creative pulls, linger in the pools of eclectic atmosphere an hang out at bars discussing the more important things in life, like what if ….

Having read Pablo Neruda’s Ode To Valparáiso numerous times, being here now it brings a fresh smile. The thought of knowing what he knows (well, from my wee perspective) and having him allow each and every one of us to see into the slits of lights and cracks of darkness Valparáiso parades so proudly opens doors to the what if, what is and where to from here. Ahh ….

Ode To Valparaíso

By Pablo Neruda

Translated by: Laney Sullivan

What nonsense
You are
What a crazy
Insane Port.
Your mounded head
Disheveled
You never finish combing your hair
Life has always surprised you
Death woke you
In your undershirt and long underwear
Fringed with color
Naked
With a name tattooed on the stomach
And with a cap
The earthquake grabbed you
You ran
Mad
Broke your fingernails
It moved
The waters and the stones
Sidewalks
And seas
The night,
You would sleep
In the ground
Tired
From your sailing
And the furious earth
Lifted its waves
More stormy
Than a tempest
The dust
Covered you
The eyes
The flames
Burned your shoes
The solid
Houses of bankers
Trembled
Like wounded whales
While above
The houses of the poor
Leapt
Into nothingness
Like captive birds
Testing their wings
Collapse

Quickly
Valparaiso,
Sailor,
You forget
the tears
and you return
to hanging your dwellings
to paint doors
green
Windows
Yellow,
Everything
You transform into a boat
Your are
The patched bow
Of a small
Courageous
Ship
The crowns nest
With foam
Your rope lines that sing
And the light of the ocean
That shakes the masts
And flags
In your indestructible swaying

Dark star
You are
From far away
In the height of the coast
Shining
And soon
You surrender
Your hidden fire
The rocking
Of your deaf alleys
The naturalness
Of your movement
The clarity
Of your seamanship
Here ends this ode

Valparaiso
So small
Like a cloth
Helpless
Hanging
Ragged in a Window
Swaying
In the Wind
of the ocean
Impregnated
With all the pain
Of your ground
Receiving
The dew
Of the sea, the kiss
Of the wild angry sea
That with all of its power
Beat the rocks
It could not
Knock you down
Because on your southern chest
Is tattooed
The struggle
The hope
The solidarity
And the joy
As anchors
Resisting
The waves of the earth.

2 thoughts on “Day 62 – Pablo Neruda’s Ode To Valparaíso”

  1. Ah, wow.. Such beautiful way to wrap up your trip.. How special and very very precious. And I love the house you have stayed in.. So rich with creative spirit.. Enjoy the remainder, may Valparaíso and your entire trip be etched in your hearts, minds and souls forever as I know it will be.

    1. Hola chick and Gracia ….. reality is about to kick me in da ass big time 🙂 Valparaíso is magic …. love, love, love X

We love to hear back from you ...