Ode to My Socks / Oda a los calcetines

odetomysocksIn this visualization/poetry activity, Linda Christensen speaks to the importance of celebrating the ordinary and common daily events our students take pleasure in.  “I want to find ways to coax joy back into the room, especially when students feel down about the ways of the world.”
  • Students read the following poem and discuss how Neruda describes the socks: “Two woolen /fish, /two long sharks/of lapis blue/shot/with a golden thread,/two mammoth blackbirds.”  Students can then make a list of meaningful objects they might praise.  Turning off the lights, students close their eyes and think about what the object looks like, smells like, sounds like, what it reminds them of, and how they came to get it.  After visualizing the object students are pushed to use concrete details and imagery in their pieces.  Younger students may write a paragraph describing the object and a paragraph about their object and use the details in their poems.

Ode to my Socks | Pablo Neruda

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
knitted with her own
shepherd’s hands,
two socks soft
as rabbits.
I slipped
my feet into them
as if
into
jewel cases
woven
with threads of
dusk
and sheep’s wool

Audacious socks,
my feet became
two woolen
fish,
two long sharks
of lapis blue
shot
with a golden thread,
two mammoth blackbirds,
two cannons,
thus honored
were
my feet
by
these
celestial
socks.
They were
so beautiful
that for the first time
my feet seemed
unacceptable to me,
two tired old
fire fighters
not worthy
of the woven
fire
of those luminous
socks.

Nonetheless,
I resisted
the strong temptation
to save them
the way schoolboys
bottle
fireflies,
the way scholars
hoard
sacred documents.
I resisted
the wild impulse
to place them in a cage
of gold
and daily feed them
birdseed
and rosy melon flesh.
Like explorers who in the forest
surrender a rare
and tender deer
to the spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stuck out my feet
and pulled on
the
handsome
socks,
and then my shoes.

So this is
the moral of my odes:
twice beautiful
is beauty
and what is good is doubly
good
when it is a case of two
woolen socks
in wintertime.

Pablo Neruda
(translated by Margaret Sayers Peden)

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