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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Number 42: Alberto Blanco "The Parakeets"

The Parakeets

They talk all day
and when it starts to get dark
they lower their voices
to converse with their own shadows
and with the silence.

They are like everybody
—the parakeets—
all day chatter,
and at night bad dreams.

With their gold rings
on their clever faces,
brilliant feathers
and the heart restless
with speech...

They are like everybody,
—the parakeets—
the ones that talk best
have separate cages.

--Alberto Blanco
translated by W. S. Merwin

Hap Notes: Mexican poet Alberto Blanco (born 1951) is not only a writer of poems, essays and children's books. He is also an artists who makes collages, sculpts and paints. He has been in a couple of rock/jazz groups as a singer and/or keyboardist. (It seems almost obligatory for people to be in a band at one point in their lives now, doesn't it?)

Blanco is a busy guy with art shows, writing, poetry readings, seminar teaching and the like. He's published many books of poetry and they have been translated into at least a dozen languages. A man of many interests, he studied chemistry and philosophy in college and got his Master's degree in Asian Studies.

His poetry can be about anything in his line of vision. His knowledge in so many fields gives him a wide range of subjects. He is particularly adept at zen-like conclusions.

In this poem he gives you things to think about. How and why does one converse with silence? Why is the heart restless with speech?

Here's a Blanco quote: "But, is there such a thing as an innocent work of art? No, because a work of art is a wicked proposal that is at once both an arrival and a departure..."

(The parakeet pictures at the top of the blog are my pals Dave (the green one) and Steve. Dave passed on about a year ago- he lived 10 lively curious years. Steve is a slow starter but he loves hearing the Ramayana aloud when I read it.)

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