Welcome to my traditional annual Poetry Friday post on odes. Here's last year's, with links to others. I always do odes with my eighth graders during Thanksgiving week. This year we looked at Pablo Neruda's Ode to a Tomato, Ode to Scissors, and Ode to a Hummingbird. We talk about the ecstatic, over-the-top quality of these poems, and we brainstorm a list of possible topics of our own.
This is last year's list - I forgot to take a picture of this year's. There is some overlap from year to year, but also lots of quirky originality. This year one girl said "bras," and while I'm pretty sure she was trying to be shocking, I put it on the list, because well-fitting underwear is definitely ode-worthy.
So here's one I found this year, in my copy of Five Decades: Poems 1925-1970, by Pablo Neruda (this is a bilingual edition, with facing page translations into English by Ben Belitt). It seems appropriate for several reasons.
Ode on Ironing
Poetry is white:
it comes out of the water covered with drops,
it wrinkles and piles up in heaps.
We must spread out the whole skin of this planet,
iron the white of the ocean:
the hands go on moving,
smoothing the sanctified surfaces,
bringing all things to pass.
Hands fashion each day of the world,
fire is wedded to steel,
the linens, the canvas, coarse cottons, emerge
from the wars of the washerwomen;
a dove is born from the light
and chastity rearises from the foam.
This year I am thankful for many things, but one of the greatest is writing: writing that I do, and writing that I read. I'm thankful for novels and poetry; for thank-you notes; for my students' writing prompts, sitting in a heap on my floor waiting for me to grade them (OK, I'm not as thankful for those). I'm thankful for my Quinquagenarian Writing Project. I'm thankful for the way writing helps us smooth out the sanctified surfaces, figure out our lives, make the miserable parts bearable and the beautiful parts longer-lasting. Anne Lamott writes, "My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I'm grateful for it the way I'm grateful for the ocean. Aren't you?" Yes, I really am.
I'm looking forward to reading posts from this week's roundup, hosted by Carol at her corner.
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