Dare to Condense

Written for:  Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads – Weekend MiniChallenge:  Condense A Poem     (posted by Kim)
I have chosen a long(-ish) poem by Pablo Neruda, which I would like you to condense to at least half the lines of the original, using your own words and any form you like, for example, a haiku, tanka or sonnet, while retaining what you think is the essence of the poem.

Sweetness, always

“Why such harsh machinery?
Why, to write down the stuff and people of everyday,
must poems be dressed up in gold,
or in old and fearful stone?

I want verses of felt or feather which scarcely weigh,
mild verses
with the intimacy of beds
where people have loved and dreamed.
I want poems stained
by hands and everydayness.

Verses of pastry which melt
into milk and sugar in the mouth,
air and water to drink,
the bites and kisses of love.
I long for eatable sonnets,
poems of honey and flour.

Vanity keeps prodding us
to lift ourselves skyward
or to make deep and useless
tunnels underground.
So we forget the joyous
love-needs of our bodies.
We forget about pastries.
We are not feeding the world.

In Madras a long time since,
I saw a sugary pyramid,
a tower of confectionery –
one level after another,
and in the construction, rubies,
and other blushing delights,
medieval and yellow.

Someone dirtied his hands
to cook up so much sweetness.

Brother poets from here
and there, from earth and sky,
from Medellin, from Veracruz,
Abyssinia, Antofagasta,
do you know the recipe for honeycombs?

Let’s forget about all that stone.

Let your poetry fill up
the equinoctial pastry shop
our mouths long to devour –
all the children’s mouths
and the poor adults’ also.
Don’t go on without seeing,
relishing, understanding
all these hearts of sugar.

Don’t be afraid of sweetness.

With or without us,
sweetness will go on living
and is infinitely alive,
forever being revived,
for it’s in a man’s mouth,
whether he’s eating or singing,
that sweetness has its place.”
                      by Pablo Neruda

Here is my take:

Sail your verses
like a boat bouncing
on waves.

Caves are dark
puzzling pathways,
mazes that trick
and confuse.

Make love in a field
of wildflowers. Notate
sweet scents around you.

Write a poem of all sensuous
moments life offers–a set
of verses that speaks
to the world in every language.


About purplepeninportland

I am a freelance poet, born and bred in Brooklyn, New York. I live with my husband, John, and two charming rescue dogs–Marion Miller and Murphy. We spent eight lovely years in Portland, OR, but are now back in New York. My goal is to create and share poetry with others who write, or simply enjoy reading poetry. I hope to touch a nerve in you, and feel your sparks as well.
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18 Responses to Dare to Condense

  1. Yes the sense is there but the theme is different, moving from pastry to meadow there is still sweetness


  2. Rosemary Nissen-Wade says:

    I love your version!


  3. kim881 says:

    This is beautifully fresh and different, while retaining Neruda’s ideas, Sarah! You’ve moved from the sweetness of the bakery or kitchen to the sweetness of wildflowers in a meadow. That final stanza is so true!


  4. You had me at “wildflowers”. Few things are as simple, complex, natural… as alive as wildflowers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love that first sentence!


  6. othermary says:

    You’ve captured the wonderful earthiness or Neruda and made it your own.


  7. Candy says:

    Those opening lines really captured me


  8. Yes, write of sensuous moments


  9. Seriously wonderful opening stanza – and I sailed right no though …


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