Keeping Quiet

Keeping quiet is a poem originally written by Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto who went by the pin name of “Pablo Neruda”, he was born on 12 July, 1904 in Chile and died in 1973 of cancer. Contrary to most poems written in a languages other than our own, it looses little when translated from the original Spanish.

I first became acquainted with Neruda’s work in Colombia in the late 1950’s through a Colombian girl I was dating at the time in Bogota. This was a time of unrest in the Latin community and he was well respected in his poetry.

His appeal to readers to take a little time out of their busy schedules of life, for a little introspection, and retrospection, is a thing we should all be thinking about in these times of death, sickness, and austere rules, coupled with a government which is run by a man which has neither introspection nor retrospection and does not seem to understand our nation, our government or our people of the world at all.

The title, “Keeping Quiet”, is symbolic to stop all the activities, keeping quiet in the mind, not doing anything, but to question and understand the purpose of the world that humans have created around themselves.

I hope you will, as he ask, count to 12 while listening to calming music and hear his words.



Keeping Quiet

by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the Earth
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the Earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.


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