Pablo Neruda
Ode To The Piano


At the concert
the piano was sad,
ignored its gravedigger's black frock
and later opened its mouth,
its whale mouth,
the pianist entered the piano
like a crow flying,
something happened
as though a silver stone splashed
or a hand appeared from
a hidden pond:
a sweetness slid down
like rain
on a bell,
in the background light fell
from a closed-up house,
an emerald traveled through the depths,
and the sea gave out its call,
as did the night,
the fields,
a drop of dew.
the lightning bolt on high,
the silent poetry of the rose rang out,
silence surrounded the bed of dawn.

Thus was music born
from the dying piano,
the naiad's robes
were lifted from the catafalque
and from its teeth
until the piano, the pianist
sank into oblivion
and the concert,
and all was sound.
torrential the notes
pure scale, clear bell.

Then the man returned
from the tree of music.
He came flying back down
like a lost crow
to a crazed horse:
the piano closed its whales-maw
and the man walked backwards
towards silence.



 — from Navegaciones y regresos (Voyages and Homecomings), 1959, translated by Carlos Reyes