Ode to Salt

by PABLO NERUDA (1904-1973)

featuring Voice Artist Tracey Kummrow

This salt
in the saltcellar
I once saw in the salt mines.
I know
you won’t
believe me,
but
it sings,
salt sings, the skin
of the salt mines
sings
with a mouth smothered
by the earth.
I shivered in those solitudes
when I heard
the voice of
the salt
in the desert.
Near Antofagasta
the nitrous
pampa
resounds:
a broken
voice,
a mournful
song.

In its caves
the salt moans, mountain
of buried light,
translucent cathedral,
crystal of the sea, oblivion
of the waves.

And then on every table
in the world,
salt,
we see your piquant
powder
sprinkling
vital light
upon
our food. Preserver
of the ancient
holds of ships,
discoverer
on
the high seas,
earliest
sailor
of the unknown, shifting
byways of the foam.
Dust of the sea, in you
the tongue receives a kiss
from ocean night:
taste imparts to every seasoned
dish your ocean essence;
the smallest,
miniature
wave from the saltcellar
reveals to us
more than domestic whiteness;
in it, we taste infinitude.

Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda’s real name was Neftal Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He was born on July 12, 1904, in Parral, a town in Chile. He adopted the pen name of Pablo Neruda in memory of the Czechoslovakian poet Jan Neruda. The poet published his first book, Crepusculario, in 1923. In 1924, he published Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada, which became one of his best-known and most translated works. click here to learn more

Pablo Neruda Contemporaries
Alfred Noyes
Langston Hughes
Ogden Nash
Ezra Pound

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