He who becomes the slave of habit,
who follows the same routes every day,
who never changes pace,
who does not risk and change the color of his clothes,
who does not speak and does not experience,
He or she who shuns passion,
who prefers black on white,
dotting ones „it’s” rather than a bundle of emotions, the kind that make your eyes glimmer,
that turn a yawn into a smile,
that make the heart pound in the face of mistakes and feelings,
He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy,
who is unhappy at work,
who does not risk certainty for uncertainty,
to thus follow a dream,
those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives,
He who does not travel, who does not read,
who does not listen to music,
who does not find grace in himself,
she who does not find grace in herself,
He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem,
who does not allow himself to be helped,
who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck, about the rain that never stops,
He or she who abandon a project before starting it, who fail to ask questions on subjects he doesn’t know, he or she who don’t reply when they are asked something they do know,
Let’s try and avoid death in small doses,
reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing.
Only a burning patience will lead
to the attainment of a splendid happiness.
Author: Pablo Neruda
© All rights reserved to the author
Review of the poem:
The great Urdu poet, Mirza Ghalib, has very well written about death in a couplet that a day is fixed for death for everybody, even though people spend sleepless nights! Another great poet of modern times, Pablo Neruda has described this phenomenon as „dying slowly” which is indicative of a life devoid of any spark or zest for life. In this state of mind, a person dies everyday in a slow but steady process. Neruda is widely known as a poet who sings songs of love and in this drab and dreary topic of death, he comes out as a protagonist of colourful life and not for life stuck in comfort zones. In other words, he has displayed his love for life over and above the looming shadows of death.
This is indeed an inspirational poem. It simply contemplates that life revolving around a certain groove is not a full life. Rather it should be enlivened by taking risks and making silly mistakes even. The poet furthers this idea by saying that who do not forgo sound advice once in their life, at least is dying slowly! One should not turn into a moron in life. On the contrary, he or she should travel, listen to music, read and find grace in the personality gifted by God. One should enjoy the work assigned to him. He should not become emotionally blank. It is better to be a bundle of emotions which can convert a yawn into smile and make the heart pounding in the face of mistakes and feelings.
The poet clearly advocates for valuing one’s self-esteem, and asking questions and seeking answers which the life hurls at us in routine manner. One should never stop dreaming because it reflects all good things of life like hope, intent to be happy and overall a will to enjoy the life to the fullest.
The poet has successfully presented his viewpoint. However, the present day realities are the biggest roadblock in achieving this highly desired goal. The cut-throat competition, the rat race, the sky – touching ambitions, and the last but not the least, the disintegration of joint family are the challenges which sometimes look insurmountable. Only the persons endowed with courage of conviction and inner strength can fit the shoes of poet’s aspirations. There is no dearth of such persons in this times also. But the majority is suffering from the cramps of modernity.
However, a creator’s role is already well-defined. He is the torch- bearer for his generations who shows them the right path, though the chosen paths appear to be thorny or difficult to tread on. That way poet has successfully conveyed what was expected from him. The bright rays of optimism will certainly illuminate the paths of readers’ lives. And that is what Neruda is! A poet of love and hope who never stops seeing love and hope even in the process of dying!
Author of the review: Rakesh Chandra
© All rights reserved to the author