“No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, one can live fully in it only by living responsibly in some small part of it.”

from Douglas Moore’s Art of Quotation

Art of Quotation

“No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, one can live fully in it only by living responsibly in some small part of it. Where we live and who we live there with define the terms of our relationship to the world and to humanity. We thus come again to the paradox that one can become whole only by the responsible acceptance of one’s partiality.”

Wendell Berry, writer, quote from “The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry”, p.118, Counterpoint


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from The Earth by Pablo Neruda

And when sleep comes
to stretch out and take me
to my own silence
there is a great white wind
that destroys my sleep
and from it fall leaves,
they fall like knives
upon me, draining me of blood.

And each wound has
the shape of your mouth.

translated by Donald D. Walsh

Absence by Pablo Neruda

I have scarcely left you
when you go in me, crystalline,
or trembling,
or uneasy, wounded by me
or overwhelmed with love, as when your eyes
close upon the gift of life
that without cease I give you.

My love,
we have found each other
thirsty and we have
drunk all the water and the blood,
we have found each other
hungry
and we bit each other
as fire bites,
leaving wounds in us.

But wait for me,
keep for me your sweetness,
I will give you too
a rose.

translated by Donald D. Walsh

from A Dream of Trains by Pablo Neruda

I was in the seat and the train
was running through my body,
breaking down my frontiers–
suddenly, it was the train of my childhood,
smoke of the early morning,
bittersweet of summer.

There were other trains which were fleeing,
their cars well-filled with sorrows,
like a cargo of asphalt;
so did the  stationary train run on
in the morning which was growing
heavy about my bones.

I was alone in the solitary train,
but not only was I alone–
a host of solitudes were gathered
around the hope of the journey,
like peasants on the platforms.
And I, in the train, like stale smoke,
with so many shiftless souls,
burdened by so many deaths,
felt myself lost on a journey
in which nothing was moving
but my exhausted heart.

translated  by Alastair Reid

from Bestiary by Pablo Neruda

Frogs, soft, raucous, sonorous–
I always wanted to be a frog,
I always loved the pools and the leaves
slender as filaments,
the green world of watercress
with the frogs lords of the sky.

The serenade of frogs
starts in my dream and illumines it,
starts up like a climbing plant
to the balconies of my childhood,
to my cousin’s growing nipples,
to the astronomic jasmine
of black Southern nights,
and now that time has passed,
let them not ask after the sky;
it seems I still haven’t learned
the harsh speech of frogs.

If all this is so, how am I a poet?
What do I know of the complex
geography of the night?

translated by Alastair Reid