The Poet’s Obligation


"To whoever is not listening to the sea
this Friday morning, to whoever is cooped up
in house, office, factory, or woman,
or street or mine or harsh prison cell:
to that person I come, and, without
speaking or looking,
I arrive & open the doors of the prison
& a vibration starts up, vague & insistent,
a great roar of thunder sets in motion
the rumble of the planet & the foam,
the groaning rivers of the ocean rise,
the star vibrates swiftly in its corona,
and the sea beats, dies, & goes on beating.
So, drawn on by my destiny,
I ceaselessly must listen to & keep
the sea's lamenting in my consciousness
I must feel the crash of the hard water
& gather it up in a perpetual cup
so that, wherever those in prison may be,
wherever they suffer autumn's castigation,
I may be present with an errant wave,
I move in & out of windows
& hearing me, eyes may lift themselves
saying "How can I reach the sea?"

And I shall broadcast, saying nothing,
the starry echoes of the wave,
a breaking up of foam and of quicksand,
a rustling of salt water withdrawing,
the grey cry of sea-birds on the coast.
So, through me, freedom & the sea
Will call in answer to the shrouded cart."
~Pablo Neruda, The Poet's Obligation

Some profound thoughts today while sifting through stories of trafficking survivors and freedom-bringers.

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