Ode To My Socks

By Pablo Neruda, translated by Stephen Mitchell

 

Maru Mori brought me

a pair

of socks

which she knitted with her own

sheepherder hands,

two socks as soft

as rabbits.

I slipped my feet

into them

as if they were

two                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          cases

knitted

with threads of

twilight

and the pelt of sheep.

 

Outrageous socks,

my feet became

two fish

made of wool,

two long sharks

of ultramarine blue

crossed

by one golden hair,

two gigantic blackbirds,

two cannons:

my feet

were honored in this way

by

these

heavenly

socks.

They were

so beautiful

that for the first time

my feet seemed to me

unacceptable

like two decrepit

firemen, firemen

unworthy

of that embroidered

fire,

of those luminous

socks.

 

Nevertheless,

I resisted

the sharp temptation

to save them

as schoolboys

keep

fireflies,

as scholars

collect

sacred documents,

I resisted

the wild impulse

to put them

in a golden

cage

and each day give them

birdseed

and chunks of pink melon.

Like explorers

in the jungle

who hand over the rare

green deer

to the roasting spit

and eat it

with remorse,

I stretched out

my feet

and pulled on

the

magnificent

socks

and

then my shoes.

 

And the moral of my ode

is this:

beauty is twice

beauty

and what is good is doubly

good

when it’s a matter of two

woolen socks

in winter.