And now for something completely different: this is one of my favourite poems by the brilliant Pablo Neruda, translated from the original Spanish by Alastair Reid.
It reminds me of all the bickering and politics that get in the way of climate science, and all the trials and tribulations of climate change communication.
Given that now perhaps
we are seriously alone,
I mean to ask some questions –
we’ll speak man to man.
With you, with that passerby,
with those born yesterday,
with all those who died,
and with those to be born tomorrow,
I want to speak without being overheard,
without them always whispering,
without things getting changed
in ears along the way.
Well then, where from, where to?
What made you decide to be born?
Do you know that the world is small,
scarcely the size of an apple,
like a little hard stone,
and that brothers kill each other
for a fistful of dust?
For the dead there’s land enough!
You know by now, or you will,
that time is scarcely one day
and a day is a single drop?
How will you be, how have you been?
Sociable, talkative, silent?
Are you going to outdistance
those who were born with you?
Or will you be sticking a pistol
grimly into their kidneys?
What will you do with so many days
left over, and even more,
with so many missing days?
Do you know there’s nobody in the streets
and nobody in the houses?
There are only eyes in the windows.
If you don’t have somewhere to sleep,
knock on a door and it will open,
open up to a certain point
and you’ll see it’s cold inside,
and that that house is empty
and wants nothing to do with you;
your stories are worth nothing,
and if you insist on being gentle,
the dog and cat will bite you.
Until later, till you forget me –
I’m going, since I don’t have time
to ask the wind more questions.
I can scarcely walk properly,
I’m in such a hurry.
Somewhere they’re waiting
to accuse me of something
and I have to defend myself;
nobody knows what it’s about
except that it’s urgent,
and if I don’t go, it will close,
and how can I hold my own
if I knock and nobody opens the door?
Until later, we’ll speak before then.
Or speak after, I don’t remember,
or perhaps we haven’t even met
or cannot communicate.
I have these crazy habits –
I speak, there is no one and I don’t listen,
I ask myself questions and never answer.
– Pablo Neruda