Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ode to a Watermelon

painting by South African artist  Douw Gerbrand

Today I was working with odes with the students in my Poetry Writing class, and as an example of a modern ode, I read them this one.  It is so musical and lyrical when read aloud. I just loved it:

Ode to the Watermelon      by Pablo Neruda

The tree of intense



is all blue sky,

yellow sun,

fatigue in drops,

a sword

above the highways,

a scorched shoe

in the cities:

the brightness and the world

weigh us down,

hit us

in the eyes

with clouds of dust,

with sudden golden blows,

they torture

our feet

with tiny thorns,

with hot stones,

and the mouth


more than all the toes:

the throat

becomes thirsty,

the teeth,

the lips, the tounge:

we want to drink


the dark blue night,

the South Pole,

and then

the coolest of all

the planets crosses

the sky,

the round, magnificent,

star-filled watermelon.

It's a fruit from the thirst-tree.

It's the green whale of the summer.

The dry universe

all at once

given dark stars

by this firmament of coolness

lets the swelling


come down:

its hemispheres open

showing a flag

green, white, red,

that dissolves into

wild rivers, sugar,


Jewel box of water, phlegmatic


of the fruitshops,


of profundity, moon

on earth!

You are pure,

rubies fall apart

in your abundance,

and we


to bite into you,

to bury our


in you, and

our hair, and

the soul!

When we're thirsty

we glimpse you


a mine or a mountain

of fantastic food,


among our longings and our teeth

you change


into cool light

that slips in turn into

spring water

that touched us once


And that is why

you don't weigh us down

in the siesta hour

that's like an oven,

you don't weigh us down,

you just

go by

and your heart, some cold ember,

turned itself into a single

drop of water.

(translated by Robert Bly)

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