Saturday, June 11, 2011

Aimless Reading: The N's, Part 5.4 (Pablo Neruda)

Canto General by Michael_Kelleher
Canto General, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.
Neruda, Pablo
Canto General


Purchased at the now-defunct Seventh St. Books in Manhattan. I got it for five dollars sometime in 1995 or early 1996. Every single page I read had to be cut open, as the folios were still folded together. I used to bring it to work with me everyday when I worked at Hyperion publishing. I'd sit in the back with this book and my little college Spanish-English dictionary with a scotch tape binding and translate Alturas de Macchu Picchu in between mindless tasks.

The mindless tasks I performed on this job included putting caps on a thousand water bottles to be given out at a book event. The bottles had arrived in separate containers from the caps and someone had to put them on. That someone was me.

I also ferried the artwork for the cover of Oprah's trainer's exercise book back and forth from the designer down the street. This was pre-email adoption for most companies, so changes were made and then delivered and then corrections written down and delivered, and so on. I was the messenger.

I once brought a picture of Oprah and her trainer jogging over to the designer with the following two notes tagged to the front:

1. Take more off Oprah's hips -- too fat!
2. Fill in holes in Bob's fishnet shirt -- too gay!


The only interesting job I ever did was to go through a set of data pertaining to book sales before and after the author or book appeared on or was mentioned by Oprah. This was before the book club, nonetheless the average jump in sales was something like 10,000 percent. I can only imagine the jump after the book club selections were chosen.

from Canto General

ALTURAS DE MACCHU PICCHU


DEL aire al aire, como una red vacía,
iba yo entre las calles y la atmósfera, llegando y despidiendo,
en el advenimiento del otoño la moneda extendida
de las hojas, y entre la primavera y las espigas,
lo que el más grande amor, como dentro de un guante
que cae, nos entrega como una larga luna.

(Días de fulgor vivo en la intemperie
de los cuerpos: aceros convertidos
al silencio del ácido:
noches deshilachadas hasta la última harina:
estambres agredidos de la patria nupcial.)

Alguien que me esperó entre los violines
encontró un mundo como una torre enterrada
hundiendo su espiral más abajo de todas
las hojas de color de ronco azufre:
más abajo, en el oro de la geología,
como una espada envuelta en meteoros,
hundí la mano turbulenta y dulce
en lo más genital de lo terrestre.


Puse la frente entre las olas profundas,
descendí como gota entre la paz sulfúrica,
y, como un ciego, regresé al jazmín
de la gastada primavera humana.

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