I know several people who are constantly being reminded that this year we are all supposed to be celebrating the International Year of the Potato (Peru’s gift to the world). The Colorado Potato Beetle (Colorado’s gift to the world), the most serious insect potato pest, is also celebrating.
Very few people, however, are aware that this is Global Artichoke Week (because it isn’t) and in view of this I have decided to post Pablo Neruda’s Ode to the Artichoke.
This poem is one of his Elementary Odes. He wrote three books of Elementary Odes, which number almost 180 in total, covering such themes as the birds of Chile, conger eel soup, thread, numbers, laziness, a watch in the night, barbed wire, his socks, the liver, soap, the smell of firewood, bicycles, a large tuna in the market, a ship in a bottle, a village cinema, the colour green, the migration of birds, clouds, stones, scissors and tomatoes, maize, lemons and lots of other plants and foods. My favourite of his vegetable odes is actually the Ode to the Onion, from which I recite every time I chop one:
y al cortarte
el cuchillo en la cocina
sube la única lágrima
Nos hiciste llorar sin afligirnos
(And when we cut you/with our knifes in the kitchen/it prompts the only tear/devoid of sorrow/You made us cry without distressing us)