Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ode to the Lemon

The poem is "Ode to the Lemon" by Pablo Neruda (trans. Margaret Sayers Peden).  The photos are mine - making preserved lemons.

From blossoms
by the moonlight,
from an
                     aroma of exasperated                       
steeped in fragrance,
drifted from the lemon tree,
and from its plantarium
lemons descended to the earth.

Tender yield!
The coasts,
the markets glowed
with light, with
unrefined gold;
we opened
two halves
of a miracle,
congealed acid
from the hemispheres
of a star,
the most intense liqueur
of nature,
unique, vivid,
born of the cool, fresh
of its fragrant house,
its acid, secret symmetry.

sliced a small 

in the lemon,
the concealed apse, opened, 
revealed acid stained glass,
oozed topaz,
cool architecture.

So, when you hold
the hemisphere
of a cut lemon
above your plate,
you spill
a universe of gold,
yellow goblet
of miracles,
a fragrant nipple
of the earth's breast,
a ray of light that was made fruit,
the minute fire of a planet.


Ciss B said...

I adore the poem! It isn't one I am totally familiar with, though I know I read it at one time.

It does describe the beauty of the fruit well, too. I especially love the image of a, "sliced a small
cathedral in the lemon," it gives such a picture of the segments.

Your pictures are also quite luscious!

ChrisJ said...


I am a total fan of Neruda's poetry. His images are awesome.

A Room of One's own said...

Well I love lemons. My MIL gave me a huge jar when I left Egypt last year and I remember the air-port security asking why I would want lemons.

I cannot imagine what he thought I was all about.

Nice poem, I could never put such wonderful words together, much less describe my love for lemons...he does a great job.

ChrisJ said...

Room of One's Own,

The security people must see lots of unusual things that people want to take on board - a bottle of lemons seems quite tame!

One of The Guys said...

I love that poem! What a command of the language!

ChrisJ said...


Yup. Neruda's awesome.