Mr. Fullerton's Writing Center

Poetry and Ode to the Table

by Pablo Neruda


And it was at that age...Poetry arrived

in search of me, I don't know, I don't know where

it came from, from winter or a river.

I don't know how or when,

no, they were not voices, they were not

words, nor silence,

but from a street I was summoned,

from the branches of night,

abruptly from the others,

among violent fires

or returning alone,

there I was without a face

and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth

had no way

with names

my eyes were blind,

and something started in my soul,

fever or forgotten wings,

and I made my own way,


that fire

and I wrote the first faint line,

faint. without substance, pure


pure wisdom

of someone who knows nothing,

and suddenly I saw

the heavens


and open,


palpitating plantations,

shadow perforated,


with arrows, fire and flowers,

the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,

drunk with the great starry


likeness, image of


I felt myself a pure part

of the abyss.

I wheeled with the stars,

my hear broke free on the open sky.

Ode to the Table

I worked out my odes

on a four-legged table,

laying before me bread and wine

and roast meet

(that block boat

of our dreams).

Sometimes I set out scissors cups and nails,

hammer and carnations.


Tables are trustworthy:

titanic quadrupeds,

they sustain

our hopes and our daily like.


The rich man's table,

scrolled and shining,


a fabulous ship

bearing bunches of fruit

Gluttony's table in a wonder,

piled high with Gothic lobsters,

and there is also a lonesome

table in our aunt's dining room,

is summer. They've closed

the curtains,

and a single ray of summer light

strikes like a sword

upon this table sitting in the dark

and greets the plum's transparent peace.

And there is a faraway table, a humble table,

where they're weaving

a wreath

for a dead miner.


That table gives off the chilling odor

of a man's wasted pain.

There's a table

in a shadowy room nearby

that love sets ablaze with its flames.

A woman's glove was left behind there,

trembling like a husk of fire.


The world

is a table

engulfed in honey and smoke,

smothered by apples and blood.

The table is already set,

and we know the truth

as soon as we are called:

whether we're called to war or to dinner

we will have to choose sides,

have to know

how we'll dress

to sit

at the long table,

whether we'll wear the pants of hate

or the shirt of love, freshly laundered.

It's time to decide,

they're calling:

boys and girls,

let's eat!