Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ode to Broken Things

Things get broken
at home
like they were pushed
by an invisible, deliberate smasher.
It's not my hands
or yours
It wasn't the girls
with their hard fingernails
or the motion of the planet.
It wasn't anything or anybody
It wasn't the wind
It wasn't the orange-colored noontime
Or night over the earth
It wasn't even the nose or the elbow
Or the hips getting bigger
or the ankle
or the air.
The plate broke, the lamp fell
All the flower pots tumbled over
one by one. That pot
which overflowed with scarlet
in the middle of October,
it got tired from all the violets
and another empty one
rolled round and round and round
all through winter
until it was only the powder
of a flowerpot,
a broken memory, shining dust.

And that clock
whose sound
the voice of our lives,
the secret
thread of our weeks,
which released
one by one, so many hours
for honey and silence
for so many births and jobs,
that clock also
and its delicate blue guts
among the broken glass
its wide heart

Life goes on grinding up
glass, wearing out clothes
making fragments
breaking down
and what lasts through time
is like an island on a ship in the sea,
surrounded by dangerous fragility
by merciless waters and threats.

Let's put all our treasures together
-- the clocks, plates, cups cracked by the cold --
into a sack and carry them
to the sea
and let our possessions sink
into one alarming breaker
that sounds like a river.
May whatever breaks
be reconstructed by the sea
with the long labor of its tides.
So many useless things
which nobody broke
but which got broken anyway

Pablo Neruda


  1. Neruda is my favourite poet and therefore, the choice. For me, the simplicity of language and the complexity of thought blended together holds the greatest appeal of the verse. Inviting you all to respond to these riveting words...

  2. These are the titles under which you can explore and interpret the poem. These are only to prod you and are not mandatory:

    Sense: what is the meaning of the poem?
    Feelings and Intention: What is the poet trying to communicate?
    Language: What are the images and words used to convey the feelings most effectively?

    Pooja Sudhir

  3. This poem is about things that break.Even though people have nothing to d with them.Its like something that's part of life.To live life
    you have to go through the ups and downs so when something is broken you have to fix it.
    Everyone goes through all this in their and this is what life is about.

    Its does not have too many complex words so it is easy to understand.
    Pranay Khetwani.

  4. Pranay, I completely agree with it....the simplicity of language really makes this complex idea so accessible. I like the way you could draw out the significance of the broken things in life and look at it in a larger context....

    Pooja Sudhir

  5. This poem is about the problems faced by us in our life and it is us who have to face and solve them.We must not blame others and try to solve these problems as fast as we can.
    This poem is long but the words in it are understandable.

  6. This made me think about the connection between deconstructionism and physics (entropy). A beautiful, but sad poem. It’s never clear whether the things that get broken are useful or not. Perhaps the fact that they are broken is what makes them important. They reveal the presence of the destructive and merciless force of death.

  7. Dear KP (am thinking who is this),

    I love your interpretation and the perspective with which you have looked at this poem...and the reading that the very act of breaking makes them important is perhaps one of the most paradoxical yet bitter truth of life...in fact, you have made me connect with the poem in a whole new manner...kindly introduce yourself in class tmr...