Your Laughter

Your Laughter
by Pablo Neruda
Translated by Donald D. Walsh

Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lanceflower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in your joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

Mary Oliver

Wow!  Our son started crawling last week, which for me, feels like he has grown his first set of wings.  It’s fascinating to watch him decide the direction he wants to travel and independently choose the objects he prefers to explore.  He squeals with delight as he moves from place to place with a little twinkle in his eye.  It has been an exciting couple of weeks.

Of course, in my race to catch up with his progress – and more importantly, his whereabouts – I have started to feel a bit worn out.  Just when I thought I had our routine figured out, the rules changed…again!  As they say in Ghana, “no condition is permanent”, and oh, how I have been reminded of this fact over the last few months.

Luckily, my idea for one nice thing came along to save the day.  Tonight, I sat down on the couch to read a book of poems by Mary Oliver.  She is one of my favorite poets, writing mainly about nature, and I can always count on her to re-energize and lift me.  It was a lovely, simple hour that balanced the tremendous moving about we did all day.   Here is a little taste:

oliver book

The Summer Day

 

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean –

The one who has flung herself out of the grass,

The one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

Who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –

Who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

Into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

How to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

Which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?

 

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean –

The one who has flung herself out of the grass,

The one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

Who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –

Who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and gloats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

Into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

How to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

Which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?