Lila Downs

An Image Of Love And Oats

Every morning, I open Neruda’s One Hundred Love Sonnets on the breakfast table and escape to his Chilean Isla Negra.  I let him fold his wings over me and get an insight into his romantic mind: his sexual longings and love for his wife Matilde; his celebration of the the body, the female form and all its comparisons to food, birds, stones, water and mountains.   For ten to fifteen minutes I am where he is.  

On his island, its shores and mountains, vineyards and harvested earth, I feel, for the briefest of moments, his mind and vision and wish that breakfast could last all day long.  The tender sonnets of one of Latin America’s foremost love poets, bestow my humble oats with ambrosial qualities, making the mundane passionate and extraordinary. Born in 1904 in a small town in central Chile, Neruda became one of the most renowned poets of the 20th Century. He shared the World Peace Prize with Paul Robeson and Pablo Picasso in 1950, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his poetry in 1971.   His poetic genius is unmatched and I love how his writing can be so simultaneously affectionate and astute.  I don’t normally post my own work here but there is no cause for alarm! This is just my morning, my

Breakfast With Neruda
By Tracy Gaughan

Open on my breakfast table, your book
of Sonnets. They bear the aroma of warm grain
from the Black Island, a measure of romance
and oats, milled by the buhrstone of your poet tongue.

Spoons of sand in an ocean of moon, I draw in
the perfume of your labour: earth, chaff, threshing
de-hulling; sweet carnal desires ripening
under the hot Chilean sun.

You transform this cereal ritual
Into an impassioned banquet of words
From your heart to my mouth – before sonorous steel
Pilfers me from our constellation of breath.

I return each morning like thirst, unquenchable.
Refill my empty nets with your shoal of syllable.

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WestWords Perfect Pair 13.08.2014

Argentinian short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator Jorge Luis Borges was born in Buenos Aires in 1899. When he was fifteen, his family moved to Switzerland, where he studied in Geneva before travelling widely in Europe, including stays in Spain. On his return to Argentina in 1921, Borges began publishing his poems and essays in surrealist literary journals, his first collection Passion For Buenos Aires was published in 1923. In 1955 he was appointed director of the National Public Library and professor of Literature at the University of Buenos Aires. Borges was widely read, profoundly erudite and fluent in several languages, however he was relatively unknown in the English speaking world until he won the International Publishers Prize alongside Samuel Beckett in 1961.
Due to a hereditary condition Borges became blind in his late fifties and in such later works as In Praise Of Darkness 1969 and The Gold of the Tigers, 1972, he wrote of his lifelong descent into blindness and how it affected his perceptions of the world and himself as a writer. He died in Geneva in 1986. Here is:

IN PRAISE OF DARKNESS
By Jorge Luis Borges
(trans. From the Spanish by Hoyt Rogers)

Old age (the name that others give it)
Can be the time of our greatest bliss.
The animal has died or almost died.
The man and his spirit remain.
I live among vague, luminous shapes
That are not darkness yet.
Buenos Aires,
Whose edges disintegrated
Into the endless plain,
Has gone back to being the Recoleta, the Retiro,
The nondescript streets of the Once,
And the rickety old houses
We still call the South.
In my life there were always too many things.
Democritus of Abdera plucked out his eyes in order to think;
Time has been my Democritus.

This penumbra is slow and does not pain me;
It flows down a gentle slope,
Resembling eternity.
My friends have no faces,
Women are what they were so many years ago,
These corners could be other corners,
There are no letters on the pages of books.
All this should frighten me,
But it is a sweetness, a return.
Of the generations of texts on earth
I will have read only a few –
The ones that I keep reading in my memory,
Reading and transforming.
From South, East, West, and North
The paths converge that have led me
To my secret centre.
Those paths were echoes and footsteps,
Women, men, death-throes, resurrections,
Days and nights,
Dreams and half-wakeful dreams,
Every inmost moment of yesterday
And all the yesterdays of the world,
The Dane’s staunch sword and the Persian’s moon,
The acts of the dead,
Shared love, and words,
Emerson and snow, so many things.
Now I can forget them. I reach my centre
My algebra and my key,
My mirror.
Soon I will know who I am.

 

 

Spanish Language Poetry by WestWords

WestWords is produced and presented by Tracy Gaughan

airs Sat. 6pm & Thurs. 10am on http://www.claremorriscommunityradio.ie

This weeks show features:

Volver – Estrella Morente

Dreamwalker Ballad by Federico Garcia Lorca + Un Amor – The Gypsy Kings

Under The Poplars by Cesar Vallejo + Asturias – Narciso Yepes (Albeniz)

Motion by Octavio Paz + Chan Chan – Buena Vista Social Club

If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda + Granada – John Williams (Albeniz)

A Sincere Man Am I by Jose Marti + Guantanamera – The Sandpipers

In Praise Of Darkness by Jorge Luis Borges + Yo Envidio El Viento – Lila Downs (Lucinda Williams)

Troubled Girl – Karen Rameriz

Enjoy the show!

Tracy