Die Slowly

by Pablo Neruda

 

He who becomes the slave of habit

Who follows the same routes every day

Who never changes pace

Who does not risk and change the colour of his clothes

Who does not speak and does not experience…

Dies slowly

 

He or she who shuns passion

Who prefers black on white

Dotting ones I’s rather than a bundle of emotions

The kind that make your eyes glimmer

That turn a yawn into a smile

That make the heart pound in the face of mistakes and feelings…

Dies slowly

 

He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy

Who is unhappy at work

Who does not risk certainty for uncertainty

To thus follow a dream

Those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives…

Dies slowly

 

He who does not travel

Who does not read

Who does not listen to music

Who does not find grace in himself…

Dies slowly

 

He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem

Who does not allow himself to be helped

Who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck

About the rain that never stops…

Dies slowly

 

He or she who abandon a project before starting it

Who fail to ask questions on subjects he doesn’t know

He or she who doesn’t reply when they are asked something they do know…

Die slowly

 

Let’s try and avoid death in small doses

Always reminding oneself that being alive

Requires an effort by far greater than the simple fact of breathing

Only a burning patience will lead to the attainment of a splendid happiness…

And live

 

Poem: John (Jack) Walker 1888-1968

Uncle Jack

His name was Uncle Jack

He complained about his back

And smelled of liniment and ginger

He sat me on his knee when I was only three

And told me tales of the royal house of Windsor

The kings they eat tea and buns

And the Generals load the guns

For lowly men like Uncle Jack to fire

So come and sit by me although you’re only three

And I’ll sing you hymns you won’t hear from any choir

I was just six and a score

When I was called to that bloody war

To kill the evil Hun or die trying

Buried in the mud and the gas shells they did thud

Around me was the constant wailing of the dying

On one fateful autumn day

In our trench we all did lay

When I heard our captain yell something at me

Look out across the wire where the Germans now do fire

And tell me brave Jack what do you see?

I stared out across the land

And among the filthy blood and sand

I saw my best friend Davey shot and dying

Without a second thought I climbed into no man’s land

And crawled to where poor Davey was now lying

I grabbed his webbing belt in vain

And dragged him slowly back again

But sniper’s bullet suddenly found me out

I dropped poor wounded Davey to the ground

And in the battle noise no-one could hear us shout

So little Nicky listen to your Uncle Jack

This long scar upon my back

Was not won for the flippin’ king

Or the war mongers back at home

But bought by my pal Davey and death’s deadly sting

So take this dish of medals

And buy a new bicycle with pedals

And cycle carefully down to your local toy shop

Tell the folks you see to listen close to me

This bloody game they all call war just has to stop

The years they all expired

And Uncle Jack grew old and tired

But he always found the time to talk to me

My older brother Burnet died of gastro enteric fever

And the poor lad hadn’t yet reached thirty-three

He smelled of gangrene and rot

And his bowels they would not stop

Until poor Burnet’s short life was no more

His face eaten away with screams of pain

Now buried in the drain of the earth on a foreign shore

There is no sense in war

The generals always knew the score

While red poppies tell tales of death and glory

But it wasn’t like that then and isn’t now

Death, mud, blood and disease are the real story