Tuesday, 24 July 2007

pablo neruda

but i do like cats! recent assertions of of my supposed feline dislike have left me uncomfortably aware that the me who wanders about in the world might not be the me i think i am. this may go some way to explaining why i'm so circumspect about visitors to my house (much more bachelard to digest before any topoanalysis!). but as i;m still reading back through alastair reid i came across this in weathering (i'd also recommend oases), translated from neruda

we are many

Of the many men who I am, who we are,
I can't find a single one ;
they disappear among my clothes,
they've left for another city.

When everything seems to be set
to show me off as intelligent,
the fool I always keep hidden
takes over all that I say.

At other times, when I'm asleep
among distinguished people
and when i look for my brave self,
a coward unknown to me
rushes to cover my skeleton
with a thousand fine excuses.

When a decent house catches fire,
instead of the fireman I summon,
an arsonist bursts on the scene,
and that's me. What can I do?
What can I do to distinguish myself?
How can I pull myself together?

All the books I read
are full of dazzling heroes,
always sure of themselves.
I die with envy of them;
and in films full of wind and bullets,
I goggle at the cowboys,
I even admire the horses.

But when I call for a hero,
out comes my lazy old self ;
so I never know who I am,
nor how many I am or will be.
I'd love to be able to touch a bell
and summon the real me,
because if I really need myself,
I mustn't disappear.

While I'm writing, I'm far away ;
and when I come back, I've gone.
I would like to know if others
go through the same things I do,
have as many selves as I have,
and see themselves similarly ;
and when I've exhausted this problem,
I'm going to study so hard
that when I explain myself,
I'll be talking geography.

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