Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sock Poetry

Regular readers will know I like to reference a poem from time to time. Of course, I usually end up on the same poem, my favorite poem... until today. Today I've got something else, new to me, maybe new to you? Enjoy!

Monkey sock cast on

Ode to my Socks by Pablo Neruda

Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.

I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
Violent socks,

my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,

my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.

Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
keep fireflies,
as learned men collect
sacred texts,
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.

Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.

The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.


undeadgoat said...

Definitely one of my favorite poems, by one of my favorite poets . . . by the way, "woven" and "knitted" are the same word in Spanish, so the textile error is the translator's, not the poet's.

Anne said...

I love Neruda. Read more --you will too, I bet. Thanks for posting this!

Katia Shtefan said...

This poem is interesting in the context of Neruda's other odes. In all of them, Neruda enlarges the ordinary to the level of the extraordinary, yet never to excess. All of his hyperbolic images are very real, very belieavable. It's that ability to balance the poetic and the realistic that mekes him a great oet. If you really like Neruda, check out Red Poppy at It's a non-profit set up to create a documentary biographical film about Neruda and to translate his works into English.