Monday, August 8, 2011

Of Poets and Poems and Il Postino

Sean Bean in Equilibrium

Once in a while I'm in the mood for poetry.  Nothing else will  satisfy the emptiness of the moment.  

I'm not one to go to poetry readings, or jot down verse in a notebook or iPad, or subscribe to some obscure literary magazine, but I do have my favorite poems and poets. Some I grew up around, an inheritance from my family's love of books, some I found during my school years, some I've been introduced to by others.  There is a certain common emotional theme to poems I like, even if I often deny it.  

Three of my favorite poets are Pablo Neruda,  Jose Angel Buesa, and Emily Dickinson,  Below three of my favorite poems...and a bit about one of my favorite films. 

Oh yes, this is a bilingual post. 

Pablo Neruda: Me Gustas Cuando Callas/I Like You When You Are Quiet

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was a Chilean poet, diplomat, and politician.  I know him best for his love poems, or as critics describe them, his  passionate and erotically charged love poems.  

 Like You When You Are Quiet
I like you when you are quiet because it is as though you are absent, 
and you hear me from far away, and my voice does not touch you. 
It looks as though your eyes had flown away 
and it looks as if a kiss had sealed your mouth.

Like all things are full of my soul 
You emerge from the things, full of my soul. 
Dream butterfly, you look like my soul, 
and you look like a melancoly word.

I like you when you are quiet and it is as though you are distant. 
It is as though you are complaining, butterfly in lullaby. 
And you hear me from far away, and my voice does not reach you: 
let me fall quiet with your own silence.

Let me also speak to you with your silence 
Clear like a lamp, simple like a ring. 
You are like the night, quiet and constellated.
Your silence is of a star, so far away and solitary.

I like you when you are quiet because it is as though you are absent. 
Distant and painful as if you had died. 
A word then, a smile is enough. 
And I am happy, happy that it is not true.

Two of my favorite movies may have introduced many around the world to Neruda's poetry: Truly, Madly, Deeply(1990) and Il Postino (1994). 

Il Postino is a fictional story about a postman in a small Italian village who forms a friendship and is inspired by the famous poet, Neruda, who is in political exile from his country. The postman is in love and romances the love of his life and learns to love words because of Neruda. The great French actor Phillippe Noiret (Neruda) and Italian actor Massimo Troisi (the Postman) are wonderful in this lovely and moving film. 

Jose Angel Buesa:  Poema del Renunciamiento/Poem of Renunciation

Jose Angel Buesa (1910-1982)  was a Cuban poet, known for  his melancholic and romantic poetry, often about unrequited love.  The last years of his life he lived in exile, and he passed away in the Dominican Republic. In the video above, Buesa reads his own poem.

Poem of Renunciation
You will walk through my life without knowing you did,
You will walk in silence through my love and when you do
I will pretend with a smile, like a sweet contrast
of the pain for loving you… and you will never know.
I will dream with the virgin mother-of-pearl of your forehead
I will dream with your green sea emerald eyes,
I will dream with your lips, desperately,
I will dream with your kisses…and you will never know.
Maybe you will walk around with someone else that tells you
phrases that no one could ever tell you like I would do
And, drowning for ever my unnoticed love,
I will love you more than ever… and you will never know.
I will love you in silence… like someone inaccessible,
Like a dream that will never come true,
and the far perfume of my impossible love
will touch your hair… and you will never know.

Emily Dickinson: Hope is the thing with Feathers

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)  was born in Amherst, Massachusetts. Though she lived a reclusive life, she must have had a fascinating inner life. 

Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune--without the words, 
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard; 
And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little bird 
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land, 
And on the strangest sea; 
Yet, never, in extremity, 
It asked a crumb of me.


Do you have a favorite poet or poem? Do you write poetry? 


  1. In sere moments, I like to read poetry aloud, to myself. Because poetry begs the voice - rise and fall of voice, music, and intonation.

    Yeats and Dylan Thomas - Dylan for the imagery and word association...


  2. that Dickinson's poem really is lovely! And it flies like a bird when you read it.

  3. @fitzg What a lovely idea, reading poetry aloud to oneself. I need to read more Dylan Thomas

    @Dezz So glad you love it too..I love that first line "Hope is the thing with feathers"

  4. I commented on this...I am sure I am

    I remember saying that I am not intelligent enough to really know any poetry that isn't a rude Limerick.

    Ah well....hope you are ok my friend


  5. @custard LOL - Let me see, a rude Limerick post? I'll think about it!

    Hope you're having fun!

  6. "Child's Christmas in Wales"/ "The Lakeshore of Innisfree" - a bit stuck on the Celtic ancestry :D .

    But yes, reading aloud to oneself has a strangely therapeutic effect, as you work to lift and lower the voice, control the breathing - and listen to yourself. (And really wish you had a lovelier voice. :) )


  7. @custard, the best I can write is really BAD doggeral. Not rude, just pathetic - there have been good doggeral writers, Tom Lehrer, even Noel Coward. But it's fun!


  8. Yes, I've got several favourite poems and poet. I'll just name the first that comes to my mind, Edgar Lee Masters. Just wanted to say, I re-watched IL POSTINO yesterday and ended up in tears as usual at reading "Al nostro caro amico Massimo" (Troisi, the protagonist, died soon after finishing shooting), at the end. Awesome movie.

  9. @fitzg Thank you so much for the Dylan Thomas reading recommendations, Noel Coward I know, but Tom Lehrer I'll have to look up :)

    @Maria Grazia Very sad about Massimo Troisi, yes,didn't he die of a heart attack? The movie was his gift to all of us I think.


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