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A poem by Pablo Neruda

Wikimedia Commons

I declare myself guilty of not having made,
with these hands they gave me, a broom.
Why have I made no broom?
Why was I given hands?

What good have they been
if all I ever did was
watch the stir of the grain,
listen to the wind,
and did not gather straws
still green in the earth
for a broom,
not set the soft stalks to dry
and bind them
in a gold bundle,
and did not lash a wooden stick
to the yellow skirt
till I had a broom for the paths?

So it goes:
how did my life
get by
without seeing, and learning,
and gathering and binding
the basic things?

It’s too late to deny
I had the time,
the time,
yet the hands were lacking,
so how could I
aim for greatness
if I was never able
to make
a broom,
not one,
not even one?

Translated by John Felstiner