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KEEPING QUIET By Pablo Neruda


The fishermen in the cold sea would do no harm to the whales and the peasant gathering salt would look at his torn hands.


Those who prepare green wars, wars of gas, wars of fire, victories without survivors, would put on clean clothing and would walk alongside their brothers in the shade, without doing a thing.


What I want shouldn't be confused with final inactivity: life alone is what matters, I want nothing to do with death.


If we weren't unanimous about keeping our lives so much in motion,


Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still.


This one time upon the earth, let's not speak any language, let's stop for one second, and not move our arms so much.


It would be a delicious moment, without hurry, without locomotives, all of us would be together in a sudden uneasiness.


if we could do nothing for once, perhaps a great silence would interrupt this sadness,


this never understanding ourselves and threatening ourselves with death, perhaps the earth is teaching us when everything seems to be dead and then everything is alive.


Now I will count to twelve and you keep quiet and I'll go.


-from Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon Translated by Stephen Mitchell Image: Rustico Calm from Flickr


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