Poetry Friday: “A Century Dying” by Pablo Neruda

Thirty-two years to go
to the new century:
thirty-two heroical fanfares,
thirty-two fires to stamp out
while the world goes coughing up phlegm,
wrapped in its dreams and atrocities.

The tree of our bitterness
has come full leaf:
and the fall of our century
will carry the foliage away:
we watered the roots with our white blood
and yellow and black;
now our centennial epoch
after scarring our vision
with cast-iron hardware
ans armorial claws
wants medals to pin
on its sergeant’s insignia.

The cement in the street says it,
a bird whistles it out of the branches,
the jails with their rosters
of good men maligned
make it plan to me; my kin,
my irascible friends,
the stewards of poverty,
put it in so many words:
the epoch is rotting away,
stalled at time’s center
like the bones of a cow
with its predators gnawing within,
while out of time’s pestilence
comes a literature written by flies.


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