Pablo Neruda – Ode to the Artichoke – Oda a la alcachofa

The tender-hearted
artichoke
dressed up as a warrior,
erect, it built itself
a little dome,
it kept itself
impregnable
beneath
its armoured leaves,
beside it
the raving vegetables
began to frizzle,they turned themselves into
tendrils, bullrushes,
touching bulbs,
below the ground
the red-moustachioed carrot
slept,
the vine
dried out its shoots
through which wine climbs,
the leafy cabbage
took to trying on skirts,
oregano
to scenting the world,
and the sweet
artichoke
there in the garden,
was dressed as a warrior,
burnished
like a grenade and proud,
and one day
assembled with its fellows
in large wicker baskets,
it walked
through the market
to make its dream of
soldiery
come true.
In ranks
it never was so military
as at the market,
the men
among the vegetables
with their white shirts
were
marshals
of the artichokes
the serried files,
the ordering voices,
and the report
of a fallen crate,
but then
Maria
comes along
and with her basket,
picks out
an artichoke
she isn’t scared,
she scrutinizes it, considers it
against the light as if it were an egg,
and buys it,
tossing it
into her bag
jumbled together with a pair of shoes,
a cabbage and a
bottle full of vinegar
until
when entering her kitchen
she plunges it into a pot.
Thus ends
in peace
the enlistment
of this armed vegetable
called the artichoke,
after which
leaf after leaf
we undress
its deliciousness
and eat
the peaceful substance
of its green heart.

(Translated by Phillip Hill)

(Listen to the translation)


(Spanish original)

La alcachofa
de tierno corazón
se vistió de guerrero,
erecta, construyó
una pequeña cúpula,
se mantuvo
impermeable
bajo
sus escamas,
a su lado
los vegetales locos
se encresparon,
se hicieron
zarcillos, espadañas,
bulbos conmovedores,
en el subsuelo
durmió la zanahoria
de bigotes rojos,
la viña
resecó los sarmientos
por donde sube el vino,
la col
se dedicó
a probarse faldas,
el orégano
a perfumar el mundo,
y la dulce
alcachofa
allí en el huerto,
vestida de guerrero,
bruñida
como una granada,
orgullosa,
y un día
una con otra
en grandes cestos
de mimbre, caminó
por el mercado
a realizar su sueño:
la milicia.
En hileras
nunca fue tan marcial
como en la feria,
los hombres
entre las legumbres
con sus camisas blancas
eran
mariscales
de las alcachofas,
las filas apretadas,
las voces de comando,
y la detonación
de una caja que cae,
pero
entonces
viene
María
con su cesto,
escoge
una alcachofa,
no le teme,
la examina, la observa
contra la luz como si fuera un huevo,
la compra,
la confunde
en su bolsa
con un par de zapatos,
con un repollo y una
botella
de vinagre
hasta
que entrando a la cocina
la sumerge en la olla.
Así termina
en paz
esta carrera
del vegetal armado
que se llama alcachofa,
luego
escama por escama
desvestimos
la delicia
y comemos
la pacífica pasta
de su corazón verde.

(Listen to poem in Spanish – read by Danilo Reyna)

 

1 Comment

  1. Develop the theme further. It is interesting to learn more!
    http://www.serendipityradio.com/forums/index.php?showuser=10112

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