Ode to Air by Pablo Neruda

Thanks to Professor Martha Mahoney of the University of Miami Law School for bringing our attention to this wonderful poem,  Ode to Air by Pablo Neruda, in discussions of alternative legal-economic orders at the recent ClassCrits workshop on Rethinking Economics and Law at the University at Buffalo Law School.  Below is a short excerpt, but I recommend the full poem here.

I don’t know who you are but

I ask one thing –
don’t sell yourself.
The water sold itself
and from the desert’s
distilleries
I’ve seen
the last drops
terminate
and the poor world, the people
walking with their thirst
staggering in the sand.
I saw the light
at night
rationed,
the great light in the house
of the rich.

***

No, air,
don’t sell yourself,
don’t be channeled,
don’t be entubed,
don’t be boxed,
compressed,
don’t be stamped out in pills,
don’t be bottled,
be careful!
Call
when you need me,

***

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