Saturday, January 28, 2017

Weekend Mini Challenge: Condense a Poem

Welcome to the Weekend Mini Challenge with Kim from!

Sometimes I look at a long poem and wonder if it would be as effective if it were condensed, reduced like a rich sauce. What is the essence of the poem? Would it be the same for another reader? How many perspectives or versions could there be?

I have chosen a long(-ish) poem by Pablo Neruda, which I would like you to condense to at least half the lines of the original, using your own words and any form you like, for example, a haiku, tanka or sonnet, while retaining what you think is the essence of the poem.

Image result for pablo neruda sweetness always

Image of Pablo Neruda's writing desk found on Pinterest

Sweetness, always

"Why such harsh machinery?
Why, to write down the stuff and people of everyday,
must poems be dressed up in gold,
or in old and fearful stone?

I want verses of felt or feather which scarcely weigh,
mild verses
with the intimacy of beds
where people have loved and dreamed.
I want poems stained
by hands and everydayness.

Verses of pastry which melt
into milk and sugar in the mouth,
air and water to drink,
the bites and kisses of love.
I long for eatable sonnets,
poems of honey and flour.

Vanity keeps prodding us
to lift ourselves skyward
or to make deep and useless
tunnels underground.
So we forget the joyous
love-needs of our bodies.
We forget about pastries.
We are not feeding the world.

In Madras a long time since,
I saw a sugary pyramid,
a tower of confectionery -
one level after another,
and in the construction, rubies,
and other blushing delights,
medieval and yellow.

Someone dirtied his hands
to cook up so much sweetness.

Brother poets from here
and there, from earth and sky,
from Medellin, from Veracruz,
Abyssinia, Antofagasta,
do you know the recipe for honeycombs?

Let's forget about all that stone.

Let your poetry fill up
the equinoctial pastry shop
our mouths long to devour -
all the children's mouths
and the poor adults' also.
Don't go on without seeing,
relishing, understanding
all these hearts of sugar.

Don't be afraid of sweetness.

With or without us,
sweetness will go on living
and is infinitely alive,
forever being revived,
for it's in a man's mouth,
whether he's eating or singing,
that sweetness has its place."
by Pablo Neruda

When you have a sweet little reduction, link up your poem to Mr. Linky and visit other Toads!



I really like the second stanza, and this, toward the end:

"Let your poetry fill up
the equinoctial pastry shop
our mouths long to devour"

Magaly Guerrero said...

This is a tasty one, Kim. I love the poem, and I really like what you've asked of us.

Angie said...

I love this poem prompt too, Kim. I'll see if I can condense Neruda well enough to be tasty? A tall order in short form

Jim said...

Ditto of Magaly's comment. I probably will work on this tonight. We visited Neruda's Valparaiso, Chili, home (he had three, in three different countries--remember he was Communist). It's quite a spread. I currently have a picture of it posted on my Jim's Little Blog for Friday's Hunt post. It would consume the last two pictures on the bottom of my post.

Maude Lynn said...

This is a really neat prompt. My take is up.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I love Neruda, love the idea of found poetry but I am battling to write anything coherent at the moment.
I am looking forward to reading the responses to this prompt and hope to come up with something that works.

Kim M. Russell said...

I'm so pleased you all like the prompt and I can see already that there are going to be some tasty treats today!

brudberg said...

Of course I love the idea of condensing a poem down to it's core... a true challenge, though it gives you a great training in poetry interpretation... But it feels like pruning a rose-garden...

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

What a fascinating challenge, too intriguing to resist. Will see what I can come up with a little later.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

A very intriguing prompt. I am not writing today but will start fresh in the morning and hope to come up with something.

Anonymous said...

Love the poem, love the challenge! I may have bent the rules a bit for my poem... But I love this exercise :)

Margaret said...

I'd LOVE this to be a regular prompt! What a neat idea - I can only hope I did P. N. justice...

Gillena Cox said...

"I want verses of felt or feather which scarcely weigh,
mild verses
with the intimacy of beds
where people have loved and dreamed.
I want poems stained
by hands and everydayness."

when i read that section of the poem i said to myself Yum, i like the taste of this prompt
Thanks Kim

much love...

Bekkie Sanchez said...

I'm a day late but was busy yesterday. I liked this Kim and took you at your word sharing a senryu. Nice poem to condense!

Have a nice weekend Toads! I'll be around to read. Hugs!

Susie Clevenger said...

Oh I love this, my poetry has been so dark lately. I needed some sweetness. :)

Other Mary said...

What a luscious poem! Thank you Kim.