As One Listens to Octavio Paz
Listen to me as one listens to the rain,
not attentive, not distracted,
light footsteps, thin drizzle,
water that is air, air that is time,
the day is still leaving,
the night has yet to arrive,
figurations of mist
at the turn of the corner,
figurations of time
at the bend in this pause,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
without listening, hear what I say
with eyes open inward, asleep
with all five senses awake,
it’s raining, light footsteps, a murmur of syllables,
air and water, words with no weight:
what we are and are,
the days and years, this moment,
weightless time and heavy sorrow…
These lines are part of Octavio Paz’s poem ‘As One Listens To The Rain’. It inspired me so much, that in July this year I decided to start from it and compose my own poem in response to his.
The occasion came with the project launched by Chameleon Press, a local publishing company, to publish a book of poems titled : ‘Desde Hong Kong. Poets In Conversation With Octavio Paz’. The book would be a celebration of the great late Mexican poet and Nobel price winner for Literature and of the centenary of his birth, on 31st March 2014.
One hundred and eighty entries were submitted, and I am very honoured that my poem ‘When the Rainbow Graced The Sky’ was selected. My poem is a mix of feelings, situations, nature and meteorological changes that act as a background of a sentimental story meant to end, leaving behind a sense of loss.
We are in celebratory mood, here at B39, as Ciriaco had his poem selected as well. ‘You, My Whispering Ilex Tree’ discloses the personification of a mighty tree that plays the role of companion, confessor and mentor for a young child in need of security and comfort in front of life’s unanswerable questions.
The aspect that mostly fascinates me about Paz, especially while we live in the ‘Orient’, is the use of juxtaposing and contrasting thoughts or objects. Through these, Paz liked to create a more harmonious world. This complementary association of ‘Yin and Yang’ is very much part of the Eastern thought, and the poet approached it through the works of the great Chinese poets, translated by him. In addition, his stay in India as Mexican Ambassador to that country, greatly influenced his belief in ‘dualism’. Indian gods were creating and destructing, but always coexisting.
For this great and accomplished project, I would like to personally thank our friend and B39 contributor Juan José Morales, whose hard work and fine sensitivity as an editor contributed to the successful outcome of the project. Thank you also to the other two editors, Germán Muñoz and Tammy Ho, and to Peter Gordon of Chameleon Press ( www.chameleonpress.com) .
‘Desde Hong Kong: Poets in Conversation with Octavio Paz’ is on sale at www.paddyfield.com , www.amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (www.barnesandnoble.com) and The Book Depository (www.bookdepository.com)
I’d like to conclude with Paz’s ‘rhetorical’ question:
“Wouldn’t it be better to turn life into poetry rather than to make poetry from life?”