Pablo Neruda

Ode To An Artichoke

The artichoke of delicate heart erect in its battle-dress, builds its minimal cupola; keeps stark in its scallop of scales. Around it, demoniac vegetables bristle their thicknesses, devise tendrils and belfries, the bulb's agitations; while under the subsoil the carrot sleeps sound in its rusty mustaches. Runner and filaments bleach in the vineyards, whereon rise the vines. The sedulous cabbage arranges its petticoats; oregano sweetens a world; and the artichoke dulcetly there in a gardenplot, armed for a skirmish, goes proud in its pomegranate burnishes. Till, on a day, each by the other, the artichoke moves to its dream of a market place in the big willow hoppers: a battle formation. Most warlike of defilades- with men in the market stalls, white shirts in the soup-greens, artichoke field marshals, close-order conclaves, commands, detonations, and voices, a crashing of crate staves. And Maria come down with her hamper to make trial of an artichoke: she reflects, she examines, she candles them up to the light like an egg, never flinching; she bargains, she tumbles her prize in a market bag among shoes and a cabbage head, a bottle of vinegar; is back in her kitchen. The artichoke drowns in a pot. So you have it: a vegetable, armed, a profession (call it an artichoke) whose end is millennial. We taste of that sweetness, dismembering scale after scale. We eat of a halcyon paste: it is green at the artichoke heart.

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