For Valentine’s Day, AK gave me The Captain’s Verses, a book of love poems by Pablo Neruda (in addition to the Glee soundtrack, which is also a fine work of poetry). This morning, I was sitting in bed reading student work for the class I’m teaching (so, yeah, that’s where I’ve been lately) when she leaned over and said, “Can I read you a poem? It’s called ‘Poverty.’”
“Can it wait a few minutes?” I said, because that’s the kind of romantic I am. “I’m trying to work so that we can fend off actual poverty.”
A few minutes later, she read:
Ah you don’t want to,
you don’t want
to go to the market with worn-out shoes
and come back with the same old dress.
My love, we are not fond,
as the rich would like us to be,
of misery. We
shall extract it like an evil tooth
that up to now has bitten the heart of man.
But I don’t want
you to fear it.
If through my fault it comes to your dwelling,
if poverty drives away
your golden shoes,
let it not drive away your laughter which is my life’s bread.
If you can’t pay the rent,
go off to work with a proud step,
and remember, my love, that I am watching you
and together we are the greatest wealth
that was ever gathered upon the earth.
The socialist and the spiritualist in me love it: Poverty is not to be romanticized or tolerated, but, at the same time, wealth is not a new dress.
Wishing you a happy Valentine’s and a sampler box of all the flavors of love.