21 Days/21 Poems: Ode to My Socks by Pablo Neruda

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A poem about a commonplace thing for today’s 21 Days/21 Poems.  Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) is one of my favorite poets.  He wrote the poetry collection  Ode to Common Things later in his life.  The book contains some of the most delicate and funny poems dedicated to everyday things, objects and food.  Enjoy!

Ode to my Socks

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft
as rabbits.
I slipped my feet
into them
as though into
two
cases
knitted
with threads of
twilight
and goatskin.
Violent socks,
my feet were
two fish made
of wool,
two long sharks
sea-blue, shot
through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons:
my feet were honored
in this way
by these heavenly
socks.
They were
so handsome
for the first time
my feet seemed to me
unacceptable
like two decrepit
firemen, firemen
unworthy
of that woven
fire,
of those glowing
socks.

Nevertheless,
I resisted
the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere
as schoolboys
keep fireflies,
as learned men
collect
sacred texts,
I resisted
the mad impulse
to put them
into a golden
cage
and each day give them
birdseed
and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers
in the jungle who hand
over the very rare
green deer
to the spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stretched out
my feet
and pulled on
the magnificent
socks
and then my shoes.

The moral
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
beauty
and what is good is doubly
good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool
in winter.

by Pablo Neruda and translated by Robert Bly

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13 comments

    • It’s quite an interesting collection of odes. I also like his In Praise of Ironing though I doubt that he did much ironing himself.

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  1. I love Neruda and I am lucky enough to be able to read him in his native language. This poem reminds us that you can write poetry about simple things. No, you SHOULD write poetry about simple things.

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