Pablo Neruda

Poet's Obligation

To whoever is not listening to the sea this Friday morning, to whoever is cooped up in house or office, factory or woman or street or mine or harsh prison cell; to him I come, and, without speaking or looking, I arrive and open the door of his prison, and a vibration starts up, vague and insistent, a great fragment of thunder sets in motion the rumble of the planet and the foam, the raucous rivers of the ocean flood, the star vibrates swiftly in its corona, and the sea is beating, dying and continuing. So, drawn on by my destiny, I ceaselessly must listen to and keep the sea's lamenting in my awareness, I must feel the crash of the hard water and gather it up in a perpetual cup so that, wherever those in prison may be, wherever they suffer the autumn's castigation, I may be there with an errant wave, I may move, passing through windows, and hearing me, eyes will glance upward 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 quicksand, a rustling of salt withdrawing, the grey cry of the sea-birds on the coast. So, through me, freedom and the sea will make their answer to the shuttered heart.

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