Ode to the Storm

Last night
she
came,
livid,
night-blue,
wine-red:
the tempest
with her
hair of water
, eyes of cold fire-
last night she wanted
to sleep on earth.
She came all of a sudden
newly unleashed
out of her furious planet,
her cavern in the sky;
she longed for sleep
and made her bed:
sweeping jungles and highways,
sweeping mountains,
washing ocean stones,
and then
as if they were feathers,
ravaging pine trees
to make her bed.
She took the lightning
from her quiver of fire,
dropped thunderclaps
like great barrels.
All of a sudden
there was a silence:
a single leaf
gliding on air
like a flying violin-
then,
before
it touched the earth,
you took it
in your hands, great storm,
put all your winds to work
blowing their horns,
set the whole night
galloping with its horses,
all the ice whistling,
the wild
trees
groaning in misery
like prisoners,
the earth
moaning, a woman
giving birth,
in a single blow
you blotted out
the noise of grass
or stars,
tore
the numbed silence
like a handkerchief-
the world filled
with sound, fury and fire,
and when the lightning flashes
fell like hair
from your shining forehead,
fell like swords
from your warrior's belt
and when we were about to think
that the world was ending,
then,
rain,
rain,
only
rain,
all earth, all
sky,
at rest,
the night
fell, bleeding to death
on human sleep,
nothing but rain,
water
of time and sky:
nothing had fallen
except a broken branch,
an empty nest.

With your musical
fingers,
with your hell-roar,
your fire
of volcanoes at night,
you played
at lifting a leaf,
gave strength to rivers,
taught
men
to be men,
the weak to fear,
the tender to cry,
the windows
to rattle-
but
when
you prepared to destroy us, when
like a dagger
fury fell from the sky,
when all the light
and shadow trembled
and the pines devoured
themselves howling
on the edge of the midnight sea,
you, delicate storm,
my betrothed,
wild as you were,
did us no wrong:
but returned
to your star
and rain,
green rain,
rain full
of dreams and seeds,
mother
of harvests
rain,
world-washing rain,
draining it,
making it new,
rain for us men
and for the seeds,
rain
for the forgetting
of the dead
and for
tomorrow's bread-
only the rain
you left behind,
water and music,
for this,
I love you
storm,
reckon with me,
come back,
wake me up,
illuminate me,
show me your path
so that the chosen voice,
the stormy voice of man
may join and sing your song with you.

Pablo Neruda


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