Today’s poem has interested me in the book itself—how it’s put together, how the poems were written, what sort of notes and critical apparatus we have here. Called “Ode to an Aged Poet,” the poem describes the subject “hurrying towards death,” and I started to wonder—is Neruda the aged poet himself? is this some sort of imagined dialogue? or is there a real aged poet? I found notes that let me know that an upcoming ode to an anchor is written about Neruda’s very own anchor (and where that anchor came from), but no word on the AP. The anchor poem brought me to the realization that the odes were arranged alphabetically too, which sort of made me sad as I imagined they’d be in the order they were written—except I should have been smart enough to know that the poor editor probably would never have been able to tell exactly how to order poems that way and alphabetical probably looked like salvation to him.
At any rate, the book jacket notes that Neruda “was in his late forties when he committed himself to writing an ode a week”—so I imagine he is not the aged poet after all. And this gives me hope, that as a poet in my late forties I might start something new—and I wonder if committing to a project like this means that he actually managed to write an ode every week without missing. My own writing is really suffering this semester since I lost my accountability partner—a woman in Texas I called at 8:30 every morning so we could tell each other what we were going to write today and whether we managed it the day before (and no, I didn’t bore her to death; she got to busy to keep up the calls). Neruda probably didn’t need an accountability partner, though I guess he probably wasn’t teaching full-time either. Then I wonder, did Neruda have a day job? And research yields my answer and more—he was a diplomat! Pablo Neruda was a pen name! So many things you can find out all from wondering about an aged poet! This post feels very random, and probably is very random—it’s been a long day in a long week, and I’m not sure anything much makes sense to me tonight. My kitty helped me read my mail and today’s poem, though, and she seems to think random is just fine for now—I’ll buy that.