“Ode to Gratitude” by Pablo Neruda

Ode to Gratitude

Thanks to the word
that gives thanks.
Thanks to the gratitude
for how excellently
the word melts snow or iron.

The planet seemed full of threats
until soft
as a translucent
or sweet as a sugary petal,
from lip to lip,
it passed,
thank you,
magnificent, filling the mouth,
or whispered,
hardly voiced,
and the soul became human again,
not a window,
some clear shine
penetrated the forest:
it was possible again to sing beneath the leaves.

Gratitude, you are medicine
scorn’s bitter oxides,
light melting the cruel altar.

you are also
the carpet
the most distant men,
passengers spread out
through nature
and the jungle
of unknown men,
as the delirious train
penetrates a new country,
eradicating frontiers,
joined with the sharp-cusped
volcanoes, frost and fire,
thanks, yes, gracias, and the Earth
turns into a table,
a single word swept it clean,
plates and cups glisten,
forks jingle,
and the flatlands seem like tablecloths.

Thanks, gracias,
you travel and return,
you rise
and descend.
It is understood, you don’t
permeate everything,
but where the word of thanksgiving
appears like a tiny petal,
proud fists hide
and a penny’s worth of a smile appears.


Pablo Neruda, 1904–1973

© 1954 Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda, “Ode to Gratitude” from Odas Elementales

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

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