The poet is counting to twelve and asks us for quiet and then he is leaving…….

The paintings are of the American artist Elizabeth Osborne, born 1936, and trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  In the early 1960’s she was in Paris for a full year of study.  These, from an Winter 2016-17 exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, are the paintings which resulted.

 

I heard that thousands of people lined the streets when Pablo Neruda’s body was taken for burial from Santiago de Chile to Isla Negra.  Some of them were declaiming his poems.  By heart. 

Whole poems declaimed by heart to the passing cortege in anguish and defiance of the dictatorship then in power.

 

 

Keeping Quiet
by Pablo Neruda, 1904-1973, Chilean poet and diplomat

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

 

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Black Doorway III and detail, oil on canvas, 1966

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;

let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

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Truck Paris and detail, 1963, acrylic on canvas with object

 

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

 

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Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

 

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Black Doorway I and details, 1966, oil on canvas with object

 

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

 

 

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Untitled, 1965, acrylic on canvas

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

 

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Windshield, 1963, acrylic on canvas with objects

 

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.***

 

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Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

 

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Night Still Life and detail, 1962, oil on canvas

 

 

***Have I mentioned that Dionysos is preparing to withdraw from the surface of the earth and that Apollo is on his way here and I shall be spending this week preparing?  I shall be pouring libations every day and trying not to drink too much myself………

The plants are coming alive.

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