Daily Neruda: Ode to My Socks

This is a great poem by Pablo Neruda about some of the most common of everyday things - socks! It shows how truly anything can inspire beauty and art. Also, now that it's getting colder I appreciate a nice cozy pair of socks more and more. The poem was published in Neruda's collection "Nuevas odas elementales," or "New Elementary Odes" from 1956. I also included a picture of a pair of socks knitted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, who is awesome not only because of her cool last name but because she knitted some of Neruda's poem into the socks! You can read about it on her Yarn Harlot blog, linked here as well. "Ode to My Socks" By Pablo Neruda Translated by Robert Bly Mara Mori brought me a pair of socks which she knitted herself with her sheepherder’s hands, two socks as soft as rabbits. I slipped my feet into them as if they were two cases knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin, Violent socks, my feet were two fish made of wool, two long sharks sea blue, shot through by one golden thread, two immense blackbirds, two cannons, my feet were honored in this way by these heavenly socks. They were so handsome for the first time my feet seemed to me unacceptable like two decrepit firemen, firemen unworthy of that woven fire, of those glowing socks. Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation to save them somewhere as schoolboys keep fireflies, as learned men collect sacred texts, I resisted the mad impulse to put them in a golden cage and each day give them birdseed and pieces of pink melon. Like explorers in the jungle who hand over the very rare green deer to the spit and eat it with remorse, I stretched out my feet and pulled on the magnificent socks and then my shoes. The moral of my ode is this: beauty is twice beauty and what is good is doubly good when it is a matter of two socks made of wool in winter. "Oda a mis calcetines" By Pablo Neruda (Original Spanish) Me trajo Mara Mori un par de calcetines, que tejió con sus manos de pastora, dos calcetines suaves como liebres. En ellos metí los pies como en dos estuches tejidos con hebras del crepúsculo y pellejos de ovejas. Violentos calcetines, mis pies fueron dos pescados de lana, dos largos tiburones de azul ultramarino atravesados por una trenza de oro, dos gigantescos mirlos, dos cañones; mis pies fueron honrados de este modo por estos celestiales calcetines. Eran tan hermosos que por primera vez mis pies me parecieron inaceptables, como dos decrépitos bomberos, bomberos indignos de aquel fuego bordado, de aquellos luminosos calcetines. Sin embargo, resistí la tentación aguda de guardarlos como los colegiales preservan las luciénagas, como los eruditos coleccionan documentos sagrados, resistí el impulso furioso de ponerlas en una jaula de oro y darles cada día alpiste y pulpa de melón rosado. Como descubridores que en la selva entregan el rarísimo venado verde al asador y se lo comen con remordimiento, estiré los pies y me enfundé los bellos calcetines, y luego los zapatos. Y es esta la moral de mi Oda: Dos veces es belleza la belleza, y lo que es bueno es doblemente bueno, cuando se trata de dos calcetines de lana en el invierno.

I'm a literature professor, writer, editor, parent and musician. Let's chat about books and writing over a cup of tea!
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