nzbirds  >    birding (in New Zealand) :
Pablo Neruda poem
The Poet Says Goodbye to the Birds

A provincial poet and birder, I come and go about the world,
just whistle my way along,
to the sun and its certainty,
to the rain’s violin voice,
to the wind’s cold syllable.

In the course
of past lives
and preterit disinterments, I’ve been a creature of the elements
and keep on being a corpse in the city:
I cannot abide the niche,
prefer woodlands with startled
pigeons, mud, a branch of
chattering parakeets,
the citadel of the condor, captive
of its implacable heights,
the primordial ooze of the ravines adorned with slipperworts.

Yes yes yes yes yes yes,
I’m an incorrigible birder,
cannot reform my ways -
though the birds

do not invite me
to the treetops,
to the ocean
or the sky,
to their conversation, their banquet,
I invite myself,
watch them
without missing a thing:
yellow-rumped siskins,
dark fishing cormorants
or metallic cowbirds,
vibrant hummingbirds,
eagles native
to the mountains of Chile,
meadowlarks with pure
and bloody breasts,
wrathful condors
and thrushes,
hovering hawks, hanging from the sky,
finches that taught me their trill
nectar birds and foragers,
blue velvet and white birds,
birds crowned by foam
or simply dressed in sand,

pensive birds that question
the earth and peck at its secret
or attack the giant’s bark
and lay open the wood’s heart
or build with straw, clay, and rain
the fragrant love nest
or join thousands of their kind
forming body to body, wing to wing,
a river of unity and movement,
severe birds among the rocky crags,
ardent, fleeting,
lusty, erotic birds,
inaccessible in the solitude
of snow and mist,
in the hirsute hostility
of windswept wastes,
or gentle gardeners
or robbers
or blue inventors of music
or tacit witnesses of dawn.

A people’s poet,
provincial and birder,
I’ve wandered the world in search of life:
bird by bird I’ve come to know the earth:

discovered where fire flames aloft:
the expenditure of energy
and my disinterestedness were rewarded,
even though no one paid me for it,
because I received those wings in my soul
and immobility never held me down.

 — Pablo Neruda

translated by Jack Schmitt,
University of Texas Press, 1989