Ode to my Socks

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 A comment from CinOz in response to the previous post pointed me towards this wonderful Pablo Neruda poem, which I thought you’d enjoy reading.

Ode to my Socks

Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
Violent socks,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.

Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
keep fireflies,
as learned men collect
sacred texts,
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.

The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.

Pablo Neruda. Trans. by Robert Bly.

54 responses

  1. Yeah! Where would we be without the socks which kind hands have made for us all our lives, and which we make for others. Lovely poem, thank you. I will copy in my notebook. X

  2. Pablo Neruda is one of my favorite poets and I have visited each of his three houses in Chile. Being a sock knitter and great admirer of Neruda’s, it makes sense he would admire socks. For more, see his book Ode to Common Things and poem of the same name. Here’s a bit…
    I have a crazy,
    crazy love of things.
    I like pliers,
    and scissors.
    I love
    cups,
    rings,
    and bowls –
    not to speak, or course,
    of hats.

  3. A fantastic poem, I may need to get the ‘Odes to Common Things’ book too. I love ‘common things’, and spend possibly far too much time gazing at my lovely, dark blue glazed, hand thrown (Boscastle Pottery) tea mugs while washing them up!.

  4. Socks are great. I love the great variety of patterns out there and also how portable they are to knit. I’ve nearly finished my sixth sock of the year and keep finding more patterns that I want to knit.

  5. So nice to read the full version of this poem which is often truncated to the last few lines. I, too, will order Ode to Common Things. Thanks, Kate.

  6. The poem says it all about the wonder, beauty and comfort of handmade and everyday objects. I will attach bits of this poem to the socks I knit and give as gifts.

  7. Seems like a I remember something about Pablo Neruda in the news recently – I wonder if he had them on when they dug him up!!

    Thank you for posting – brightened my day

  8. Thanks so much! Indeed I enjoyed re-reading Neruda’s poem, and am glad you took the opportunity to introduce it to so many who will appreciate it.

  9. I can’t believe this poem How wonderful to be aware of it. So many people whom I give my socks to rave in the same way. Never heard of this poem although I love Pablo Neruda. My socks are very simple but your previous post made me think I might try for a more intricate pattern. Thank you Kate Davies!

  10. Interesting………..will have to look him up and an Ode to Common Things sounds right up my alley!
    And the fact that it has line drawings with the poems makes it all the more intriguing. Thank you yet again!

  11. Oh I love Pablo Neruda and included this poem with a pair of socks I knitted for a wonderful man a couple years ago. Such sweet memories to see it here again.

  12. I’ve read that poem many times and always appreciate it. What’s truly lovely about this post is the similarity between the two photos – both of you facing off to the right, hands clasped in back, in front of a beautiful background.

  13. Call me a wanker, but I’ve been known to quote those last 4 lines on a card when presenting hand-knit socks as a gift…

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