Pablo Neruda

Ode To Maize

America, from a grain of maize you grew to crown with spacious lands the ocean foam. A grain of maize was your geography. From the grain a green lance rose, was covered with gold, to grace the heights of Peru with its yellow tassels. But, poet, let history rest in its shroud; praise with your lyre the grain in its granaries: sing to the simple maize in the kitchen. First, a fine beard fluttered in the field above the tender teeth of the young ear. Then the husks parted and fruitfulness burst its veils of pale papyrus that grains of laughter might fall upon the earth. To the stone, in your journey, you returned. Not to the terrible stone, the bloody triangle of Mexican death, but to the grinding stone, sacred stone of your kitchens. There, milk and matter, strength-giving, nutritious cornmeal pulp, you were worked and patted by the wondrous hands of dark-skinned women. Wherever you fall, maize, whether into the splendid pot of partridge, or among country beans, you light up the meal and lend it your virginal flavor. Oh, to bite into the steaming ear beside the sea of distant song and deepest waltz. To boil you as your aroma spreads through blue sierras. But is there no end to your treasure? In chalky, barren lands bordered by the sea, along the rocky Chilean coast, at times only your radiance reaches the empty table of the miner. Your light, your cornmeal, your hope pervades America's solitudes, and to hunger your lances are enemy legions. Within your husks, like gentle kernels, our sober provincial children's hearts were nurtured, until life began to shuck us from the ear.

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