Be Still... and know

  • Now we will count to twelve
    and we will all keep still.
  1. For once on the face of the earth,
    let’s not speak in any language;
    let’s stop for one second,
    and not move our arms so much.

    It would be an exotic moment
    without rush, without engines;
    we would all be together
    in a sudden strangeness.

    Fisherman in the cold sea
    would not harm whales
    and the man gathering salt
    would look at his hurt hands.

    Those who prepare green wars,
    wars with gas, wars with fire,
    victories with no survivors,
    would put on clean clothes
    and walk about with their brothers
    in the shade, doing nothing.

    What I want should not be confused
    with total inactivity.
    Life is what it is about;
    I want no truck with death.

    If we were not so single-minded
    about keeping our lives moving,
    and for once could do nothing,
    perhaps a huge silence
    might interrupt this sadness
    of never understanding ourselves
    and of threatening ourselves with death.
    Perhaps the earth can teach us
    as when everything seems dead
    and later proves to be alive.“

    Now I’ll count up to twelve
    and you keep quiet and I will go.

    — Pablo Neruda. Keeping Quiet