Pablo Neruda Poem

Stone upon stone, and man, where was he?

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Stone upon stone, and man, where was he?
Air upon air, and man, where was he?
Time upon time, and man, where was he?
Were you too then the broken bit
of half-spent humankind, an empty eagle, that
through the streets today, through footsteps,
through the dead autumn’s leaves,
keeps crushing its soul until the grave?
The meager hand, the foot, the meager life . . .
Did the days of unraveled light
in you, like rain
on pennants at festival,
give off their dark food petal by petal
into your empty mouth?

Hunger, coral of humankind,
hunger, hidden plant, root of the woodcutter,
hunger, did your reef-edge climb
to these high and ruinous towers?

I question you, salt of the roads,
show me the trowel; architecture, let me
grind stone stamens with a stick,
climb every step of air up to the void,
scrape in the womb till I touch man.

Macchu Picchu, did you set
stone upon stone on a base of rags?
Coal over coal and at bottom, tears?
Fire on the gold and within it, trembling, the red
splash of blood?
Give me back the slave you buried!
Shake from the earth the hard bread
of the poor, show me the servant’s
clothes and his window.
Tell me how he slept while he lived.
Tell me if his sleep
was snoring, gaping like a black hole
that weariness dug in the wall.
The wall, the wall! If every course of stone
weighed down his sleep, and if he fell underneath
as under a moon, with his sleep!

Ancient America, sunken bride,
your fingers too,
leaving the jungle for the empty height of the gods,
under bridal banners of light and reverence,
blending with thunder from the drums and lances,
yours, your fingers too,
those that the abstract rose and rim of cold, the
bloodstained body of the new grain bore up
to a web of radiant matter, to the hardened hollows,
you too, buried America, did you keep in the deepest part
of your bitter gut, like an eagle, hunger?

Through the dazing splendor,
Sidereal eagle, vineyard of mist


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