Keeping Quiet

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KEEPING QUIET   by Pablo Neruda

 

Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still.

 

For once on the face of the earth,

let’s not speak in any language;

let’s stop for one second,

and not move our arms so much.

 

It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines;

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.

 

Fisherman in the cold sea

would not harm whales

and the man gathering salt

would look at his hurt hands.

 

Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victories with no survivors,

would put on clean clothes

and walk about with their brothers

in the shade, doing nothing.

 

What I want should not be confused

with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about;

I want no truck with death.

 

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

 

Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.

 

photograph Rose Cook

For Peace and for National Poetry Day

In Silence

By Thomas Merton
(1915 – 1968)

 

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
to speak your

name.
Listen
to the living walls.

Who are you?
Who
are you? Whose
silence are you?

Who (be quiet)
are you (as these stones
are quiet). Do not
think of what you are
still less of
what you may one day be.

Rather
be what you are (but who?)
be the unthinkable one
you do not know.

O be still, while
you are still alive,
and all things live around you

speaking (I do not hear)
to your own being,
speaking by the unknown
that is in you and in themselves.

“I will try, like them
to be my own silence:
and this is difficult. The whole
world is secretly on fire. The stones
burn, even the stones they burn me.
How can a man be still or
listen to all things burning?
How can he dare to sit with them
when all their silence is on fire?”

 

Rose Cook