I'm about to admit to what amounts to a cardinal sin for the modern, liberal-arts-college-graduate writing student: I don't like Pablo Neruda. There, I said it. I feel better already.
Neruda is one of those super-loved poets who is loved by poetry readers and non-poetry readers alike. He's basically a go-to referencef or everything "poetic" for contemporary "thinkers." Which, honestly, is probably one of the reasons I don't like him. He has his moments, but I've never understood why his poems have managed to reach people in a way that Rilke hasn't. Why?
Honestly, this column isn't here to explore that question (though, just to be clear, I think it's because Neruda is a love poet and Rilke is primarily concerned with death, and most people are secret sentimentalists who prefer the former). Instead, this post is going to celebrate that most glorious of foods: French fries! Because it is summer, and because french fries are awesome. I had some just yesterday, but quite frankly, the fries described in this poem sound like they could trump those anyday. Enjoy!
Ode to French Fries, by Pablo Neruda
Translated by Ken Krabbenhoft
is the world's
into the pan
like the morning swan's
half-golden from the olive's
its earthy aroma,
its pollen that braved the reefs.
in ivory suits, they fill our plates
with repeated abundance,
and the delicious simplicity of the soil.