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Inspiration

Magellanic Penguin

Neither clown nor child nor black 
nor white but verticle 
and a questioning innocence 
dressed in night and snow: 
The mother smiles at the sailor, 
the fisherman at the astronaunt, 
but the child child does not smile 
when he looks at the bird child, 
and from the disorderly ocean 
the immaculate passenger 
emerges in snowy mourning. 

I was without doubt the child bird 
there in the cold archipelagoes 
when it looked at me with its eyes, 
with its ancient ocean eyes: 
it had neither arms nor wings 
but hard little oars 
on its sides: 
it was as old as the salt; 
the age of moving water, 
and it looked at me from its age: 
since then I know I do not exist; 
I am a worm in the sand. 

the reasons for my respect 
remained in the sand: 
the religious bird 
did not need to fly, 
did not need to sing, 
and through its form was visible 
its wild soul bled salt: 
as if a vein from the bitter sea 
had been broken. 

Penguin, static traveler, 
deliberate priest of the cold, 
I salute your vertical salt 
and envy your plumed pride.

Pablo Neruda


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