Pablo Neruda–“The Word”

Pablo Neruda was a renowned and prolific Chilean poet and diplomat.  He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971.  The fictionalized 1995 film, The Postman (Il Postino), takes place in Italy during Neruda’s time in exile.

Neruda loved his native language, Spanish (Chilean).  He wrote in this native tongue; there have been beautiful translations of his work.

The following bit of prose, translated into English, transmits this love and the preciousness of words to him. This is only a partial excerpt from Neruda’s homage to “The Word”.  I’m sorry that I cannot give credit to the translator as it wasn’t available.

The Word
by Pablo Neruda

“You can say anything you want, yessir, but it’s the words that sing, they soar and descend…I bow to them…I love them, I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them, I melt them down…I love words so much…the unexpected ones…the ones I wait for greedily or stalk, until suddenly, they drop…Vowels I love…they glitter like colored stones, they leap like silver fish, they are foam, thread, metal, dew…I run after certain words…They are so beautiful that I want to fit them all into my poem…I catch them in mid flight, as they buzz past, I trap them, clean them, peel them.  I set myself in front of the dish.  They have a crystalline texture to me, vibrant, ivory, oil, like fruit, like algae, like aggates, like olives…and then I stir them, I shake them, I drink them, I gulp them down, I mash them, I garnish them, I let them go…I leave them in my poem like stalactites, like slivers of polished wood, like coals, pickings from a shipwreck, gifts from the waves…Everything exists in the word…”

Writing Prompt:
A brief meditation.  Get quiet, shut your eyes, take a few deep breaths.  Continue to follow the slow in and the slow out breath.  Experience the release of what you think you know with each out breath.  Experience your openness to something new with each in breath.  Ask for entry into the land of the WORD.  In your imagination, construct that land.  Visit it for a few minutes as you continue to follow the slow in and the slow out breath.  When  you feel ready, open your eyes.  Pick up your pen and let your words flow onto the page–write your own homage to the word.

peony

Shhh…Get Quiet Now

As you open the space for your writing practice, it helps to settle into a quieter place and to leave your day behind.
When I facilitate writing circles, we typically begin with a meditation.  I offer the following meditation to you as a way of grounding, centering and affirming what you are here to do–WRITE.

If you are able to record this, that would be perfect.  If not, read it aloud slowly and allow yourself to receive the benefits.  Afterwards, sit quietly for a few minutes and notice what surfaces for you.

****
Sit comfortably.
Close your eyes or soften your gaze.
Focus on your breath.
The gentle in-breath, the gentle out-breath.
Sense your breath as it enters.
Sense your breath as it exits.
Enter into the expansion of the breath.
Enter into the contraction of the breath.
Nothing forced, easy and natural breathing.
The breath is your guide on a quiet quest for your muse.
The muse is the instigator of your inspiration and creativity.
You’ve encountered her before.
Today, she leads you down a path under the widely branching oak trees.
She seems to be a tease, but she has something to share with you.
She dances forward and back, around you and with you.
She twirls you until you’ve lost your sense of direction.
She giggles and you feel safe enough to laugh with her.
You feel you can trust her.
You know that what she has to share with you will enrich your life
if you fearlessly follow her.
And you do.
Today, her name is Calliope (the muse of heroic and epic poetry, of storytelling and fine speech).
Today her name is Clio (the muse of history and writing, the giver of fame).
Today her name is Erato, the muse of Eros, desire and the poetry of love).*
Today, she offers to be available to you.
Today, she guides your writing.
Sit quietly, engaging your muse.

(PAUSE for a few minutes.)

Thank your muse as you enter into the expansion and contraction of the breath.
Witness your breath as it enters and exits.
The gentle in-breath, the gentle out-breath which gradually returns you to the present time and your space.
Open your eyes when you feel ready.
****

WRITING PROMPT
Take ten minutes to write about where you figuratively went with this meditation.  That is, non-censored, first thought or train of thought writing.  Don’t stall.  If your writing wants to take a detour, trust it, follow it.

Quietly, reread what you wrote.  Then, read it aloud.  Notice how you feel about what you wrote.  OWN YOUR WORDS!

****

*In reference to Angeles Arriens’s book, THE NINE MUSES–A MYTHOLOGICAL PATH TO CREATIVITY

Arrien says that “In Greek mythology, all nine Muses are divine forces in the form of women that guide us in the making and remaking of the human spirit and the world. Each one calls us to a path of creativity and a commitment to live an authentic life.”

WRITING TIP
Free-writing takes courage.  It’s like taking a plunge into a cold spring lake, following a dare or walking the high wire (not quite).  There are no rules to follow except to keep writing and trusting.  The critic–we all have one–gets to go on vacation during free-writes.