Pablo Neruda

We Are Many

Of the many men whom I am, whom we are, I cannot settle on a single one. They are lost to me under the cover of clothing They have departed for another city. When everything seems to be set to show me off as a man of intelligence, the fool I keep concealed on my person takes over my talk and occupies my mouth. On other occasions, I am dozing in the midst of people of some distinction, and when I summon my courageous self, a coward completely unknown to me swaddles my poor skeleton in a thousand tiny reservations. When a stately home bursts into flames, instead of the fireman I summon, an arsonist bursts on the scene, and he is I. There is nothing I can do. What must I do to distinguish myself? How can I put myself together? All the books I read lionize dazzling hero figures, brimming with self-assurance. I die with envy of them; and, in films where bullets fly on the wind, I am left in envy of the cowboys, left admiring even the horses. But when I call upon my DASHING BEING, out comes the same OLD LAZY SELF, and so I never know just WHO I AM, nor how many I am, nor WHO WE WILL BE BEING. I would like to be able to touch a bell and call up my real self, the truly me, because if I really need my proper self, I must not allow myself to disappear. While I am writing, I am far away; and when I come back, I have already left. I should like to see if the same thing happens to other people as it does to me, to see if as many people are as I am, and if they seem the same way to themselves. When this problem has been thoroughly explored, I am going to school myself so well in things that, when I try to explain my problems, I shall speak, not of self, but of geography.

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