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QUINTESSENCE

The Third Solitude

“It is the night of the ocean, the third solitude,
a quivering which opens doors and wings.”
- “Serenade,” Pablo Neruda, Fully Empowered, 1967.

Pablo Neruda is one of my most cherished poets. His language is shift in definition for me. Pure catalyst. A new understanding limned to a familiar object, a brash surprise. His words name the mystery, the unspoken ache. The poem “Serenade” is on one level about the wide deep night, the pulse of quintessence, the place where sea and sea life meet in the whisper of moonlight. On another level, it is about intimacy, the elemental purity of what breathes in darkness. Just the words “the third solitude” stop me in my tracks. Does this third solitude the poet speaks of in “the night of the ocean” describe a deep undercurrent in what never sleeps, life itself? What are the other two solitudes? Those of earth and sky, perhaps the soul? The word in Spanish that Neruda chose is "soledad," which means solitude. Or does the word more delicately infer aloneness. The alone. I wonder. The subtleties of word meanings give rich and secret freight to poems, private readings.

The purpose of poetry for me is to disengage the reasoning mind. Word mandalas that rearrange the furniture of ordinary thinking - push the chairs to the wall, roll up the rug, let’s dance! - and in so doing, invite in a conscious, unchained meditation. The poets allow me to step out of the borders of the habitual and contemplate the wonders of the everyday. Apple, star, stubbed toe, love. So go on, today write a poem.
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