Keep Quiet

A poem by Pablo Neruda which is very appropriate for this time
Keeping Quiet
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 a 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,
victories 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…
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 in winter
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go.

Pablo Neruda, translated by Alastair Reid.

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