Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Word

Besides the Bible, the following poem is probably my all time favorite piece of writing.   This descriptive poem captured my fascination with words back in college, when great literature was first introduced to me by my English professors, Dr. Longmire and Dr. Carson.  

And I turn to it today.  

Words are powerful.  

Why else would Jesus be referred to as The Word?  Why are there so many books?  Why else would we blog?  

Words provide communication.  

Communication is unavoidable.  It is necessary.  

But you can't touch them.  You can't even smell them.  Yet, they can evoke a memory of a smell or a caress of a loved one.  When unleashed from the mouth, they have the potential for harm and the potential for good.  Proverbs talks about the ways of our mouth in great detail and. . . how it reveals our heart. 

Sometimes we say too much, in order to . . . 
hurt or keep from hurting someone
to avoid conflict
to fully explain ourself and feel understand
to fit in
to feel important

Sometimes we don't say enough, in order to . . .
hurt or to keep from hurting someone else
to avoid conflict
because you don't feel like it will help anyone understand you
to fade into the background
to keep from sinning . . . 

And though I play with words all day long, I don't have words figured out.  Thank goodness for spell check, at least.

The Word

The word was born
in the blood,
it grew in the dark body, pulsing,
and took flight with the lips and mouth.

Farther away and nearer,
still, still it came
from dead fathers and from wandering races,
from territories that had become stone,
that had tired of their poor tribes,
because when grief set out on the road
the people went and arrived
and united new land and water
to sow their word once again.
And that's why the inheritance is this:
this is the air that connects us
with the buried man and with the dawn
of new beings that haven't yet arisen.

Still the atmosphere trembles
with the first word
with panic and groaning.
It emerged
from the darkness
and even now there is no thunder
that thunders with the iron sound
of that word,
the first
word uttered:
perhaps it was just a whisper, a raindrop,
but its cascade still falls and falls.

Later on, meaning fills the word.
It stayed pregnant and was filled with lives,
everything was births and sounds:
affirmation, clarity, strength,
negation, destruction, death:
the name took on all the powers
and combined existence with essence
in its electric beauty.

Human word, syllable, flank
of long light and hard silver,
hereditary goblet that receives
the communications of the blood:
it is here that silence was formed by
the whole of the human word
and not to speak is to die among beings:
language extends out to the hair,
the mouth speaks without moving the lips:
suddenly the eyes are words.

I take the word and move
through it, as if it were
only a human form,
its lines delight me and I sail
in each resonance of language:
I utter and I am
and across the boundary of words,
without speaking, I approach silence.

I drink to the word, raising
a word or crystalline cup,
in it I drink
the wine of language
or unfathomable water,

maternal source of all words,
and cup and water and wine
give rise to my song
because the name is origin
and green life: it is blood,
the blood that expresses its substance,
and thus its unrolling is prepared:
words give crystal to the crystal,
blood to the blood,
and give life to life.
--Pablo Neruda


Sarah Dawn said...

Poignant poem today, to help me as I battle against my words!

Delighted to meet you!

Splashing for His glory<
Sarah Dawn