2016 Grateful 38

Today, on Facebook, I did as I do on occasion – I shared someone’s post. A poem attributed to  Pablo Neruda that resonated with me, a poem about how we are dying slowly. In my original post, there was a misplaced apostrophe that bugged me. But not enough not to repost. I parked the anal me because I wanted to others to read it. And learn from it. And take note. So I hit the share button. 


Within minutes, I had a message from a mate telling me that it was incorrectly attributed. Along with the original. Maybe the Pablo Neruda version is a rework of the original by Martha Medeiros? I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve read it and read it and read it again and I like it more with each reading. I like it enough to share.

Die Slowly
by Martha Medeiros

He who becomes the slave of habit,
who follows the same routes every day,
who never changes pace,
who does not risk and change the color of his clothes,
who does not speak and does not experience,
dies slowly.

He or she who shuns passion,
who prefers black on white,
dotting ones i’s rather than a bundle of emotions,
the kind that make your eyes glimmer,
that turn a yawn into a smile,
that make the heart pound in the face of mistakes and feelings,
dies slowly.

He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy,
who is unhappy at work,
to thus follow a dream,
those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives,
die slowly.

He who does not travel,
who does not read,
who does not listen to music,
who does not find grace in himself,
she who does not find grace in herself,
dies slowly.

He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem,
who does not allow himself to be helped,
who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck,
about the rain that never stops,
dies slowly.

He or she who abandons a project before starting it,
who fails to ask questions on subjects he doesn’t know,
he or she who doesn’t reply when they are asked something they do know,
dies slowly.

Let’s try and avoid death in small doses,
reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing.
Only a burning patience will lead to the attainment of a splendid happiness.

Today, I’m grateful that I pushed the button. Had I not, I might never have known Martha Medeiros. I’m grateful for the reminder that life is for living. And I’m so grateful that the Martha’s original didn’t have a stray apostrophe.

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6 Responses

  1. Yes, but leaving apostrophes aside, whether the poems are by Neruda or Medeiros, however profoundly brilliant you find them, what you are quoting is the unacknowledged work of translators, “post-horses on the road to civilisation” in the words of Aleksandr Pushkin.

  2. Mary, thank you for sharing the original and the re worked version. Better than 8 o-clock mass !
    I passed it on through Facebook, but I’m not expecting any responses.
    Often in my thoughts and always appreciative of “Grateful”. Clive.

  3. Bernard, a very thoughtful quote from Pushkin, “post-horses on the road to civilisation”. How many other thoughts a worthy of such recognition, Many many I guess. To be appreciated, the reader will have to be open to and moved by the message in the original work. Thank you.

  4. Wonderful, a keeper ……..thank you. It led me to think of the poem ‘The Journey’ by Mary Oliver which has helped me through difficult times.

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