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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I write songs, I sing them... I play the piano and a little bit of the guitar.. I've released 5 albums of music, I love the scent of freshly fallen rain and the scent of lavender on bedsheets. I would drink tea all day long if the caffeine didn't keep me up at night. I hate driving in L.A traffic. I would love to one day catch the squirrel that steals the plums from my tree and make him a pet. I don't watch TV anymore. My 3 year old daughter is more entertaining than any TV show could ever be :)

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Pablo Neruda - Ode to Criticism

Criticism....there's no escaping it's sharp edge, it's stealthy approach,
it's loud shouts, it's quiet whispers, it's acid sting....

Seems like everyone meets with it sometime or other.
And as a writer, criticism has become my sometime friend.
It is also a close relative of praise, being two sides of the same coin.

Praise is always there with my favourite food, warm inviting, nurturing, strength-building, but Criticism is like eating a lemon and giving your senses a wake-up call. Sour, full of acidic flavour, and filled with the desire for change, for sweetness.

Sometimes, it's easy to ignore it, just like you can ignore
the brush of a stranger
as you walk along the street.
Sometimes, it comes up to you, hungry, homeless
and asks you for some spare change....asks to be fed and clothed.

I was recently introduced to Pablo Neruda's poetry by my good friend Clinton Jackson.

I'd like to share two "odes to criticism" by Neruda.
I want to share them because I identify with them
and I love the way Neruda gives shape to something so intangible
that most of us brush our feelings of it aside.
Neruda tackles it head-on with a perceptiveness that shows him as
a great observer of human emotion and character.

The first ode gives a form and shape to the initial burn of criticism,
the second gives a roadmap by which one can learn to benefit from criticism.
He has lovely imagery for it all and it makes for a great reflective read.
Enjoy :)


ODE TO CRITICISM (I)

I wrote five poems :
one was green
another a round wheaten loaf,
the third was a house, abuilding,
the fourth a ring,
and the fifth was
brief as a lightning flash,
and as I wrote it,
it branded my reason.

Well, then, men
and women
came and took
my simple materials,
breeze, wind, radiance, clay, wood,
and with such ordinary things
constructed
walls, floors, and dreams.
On one line of my poetry
they hung out the wash to dry.
They ate my words
for dinner,
they kept them
by the head of their beds,
they lived with poetry,
with the light that escaped from my side.
Then
came a mute critic,
then another babbling tongues,
and others, many others, came,
some blind, some all-seeing,
some of them as elegant
as carnations with bright red shoes,
others as severely
clothed as corpses,
some were partisans
of the king and his exalted monarchy,
others had been snared
in Marx's brow
and were kicking their feet in his beard,
some were English,
plain and simply English,
and among them
they set out
with tooth and knife,
with dictionaries and other dark weapons,
with venerable quotes,
they set out
to take my poor poetry
from the simple folk
who loved it.
They trapped and tricked it,
they rolled it in a scroll,
they secured it with a hundred pins,
they covered it with skeleton dust,
they drowned it in ink,
they spit on it with the suave
benignity of a cat,
they used it to wrap clocks,
they protected it and condemned it,
they stored it with crude oil,
they dedicated damp treatises to it,
they boiled it with milk,
they showered it with pebbles,
and in the process erased vowels from it,
their syllables and sighs
nearly killed it,
they crumbled it and tied it up in a
little package
they scrupulously addressed
to their attics and cemetaries,
then,
one by one, they retired,
enraged to the point of madness
because I wasn't
popular enough for them,
or saturated with mild contempt
for my customary lack of shadows,
they left,
all of them,
and then,
once again,
men and women
came to live
with my poetry,
once again
they lighted fires,
built houses,
broke bread,
they shared the light
and in love joined
the lightning flash and the ring.
And now,
gentlemen, if you will excuse me
for interrupting this story
I'm telling,
I am leaving to live
forever
with simple people.

-Pablo Neruda




ODE TO CRITICISM (II)

I touched my book:
it was
compact,
solid,
arched
like a white ship,
half open
like a new rose,
it was
to my eyes
a mill,
from each page
of my book
sprouted the flower of bread;
I was blinded by my own rays,
I was insufferably
self-satisfied,
my feet left the ground
and I was walking
on clouds,
and then,
comrade criticism,
you brought me down
to earth,
a single word
showed me suddenly
how much I had left undone,
how far I could go
with my strength and tenderness,
sail with the ship of my song.


I came back a more genuine man,
enriched,
I took what I had
and all you have,
all your travels
across the earth,
everything your eyes
had seen;
all the battles
your heart had fought day after day
aligned themselves
beside me,
and as I held high the flour
of my song,
the flower of the bread smelled sweeter.


I say, thank you,
criticism,
bright mover of the world,
pure science,
sign
of speed, oil
for the eternal human wheel,
golden sword,
cornerstone
of the structure.
Criticism, you're not the bearer
of the thick, foul
drop
of envy,
the personal scythe,
or ambiguous, curled-up
worm
in the bitter coffee bean,
nor are you part of the scheme
of the old sword swallower and his tribe,
nor the treacherous
tail
of the feudal serpent
always twined around its exquisite branch.

Criticism, you are
a helping
hand,
bubble in the level, mark on the steel,
notable pulsation.

With a single life
I will not learn enough.

With the light of other lives,
many lives will live in my song.

-Pablo Neruda

14 Comments:

Blogger * rOckER said...

wow
the poems are WAY too deep =)
for a teen like me.. yea.. pretty much =D
chanced upon your blog..
i think it has very meaning ful posts.
esp the kid one =)
went to your web too.
and i saw this comment..
not sure by who.. but it says :
MUSIC IS THE SHORTHAND OF EMOTION

i think that has alot of meaning (:
many people express their feelings through their music..

thats kinda cool =))

oh yeah.. btw..
are you in america or something?
or are you touring? =))

Sunday, July 24, 2005 5:20:00 AM  
Blogger Corrinne May said...

Hey rocker :)

Leo Tolstoy, ie a Russian novelist and philosopher wrote that quote "Music is the shorthand of emotion"

Check out some more really cool
quotes at this site
http://zaadz.com/quotes/search

Yup, I'm living in Los Angeles right now. I've been here for the past 6 years :)

I am touring. Just played in Chicago last week and I'm going to be playing 2 more shows in L.A before I get back to Singapore to play August 10th at The Esplanade Concert Hall.

Cheers,
Corrinne
http://www.corrinnemay.com

Sunday, July 24, 2005 3:09:00 PM  
Blogger Deborah Li said...

One word..."CHIM".....

I had to read it 3 times to really get what it meant. but i do have to say that its a wonderful poem.. and how true!!

Monday, July 25, 2005 9:56:00 AM  
Blogger moomoo said...

Hi Corrinne,

I love the quotes and the poems that you post on your blog/ website! I am a Lit grad from NUS like you. :) haha!

I think you might enjoy this poem by E.E Cummings "Somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond" (if you haven't read it already).
I've posted it on my blog, so you can check it out here. http://jazzymoo.blogspot.com/2005/06/smallest-hands.html

Let me know what you think of it! :)

Blessings,
Michelle

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 2:30:00 AM  
Blogger Cake said...

Hi Corrinne!

My friends and i wanted to get the tickets to your concert, but they were sold out. =[

I hope you will have a second concert here!!!! ==DD

Friday, July 29, 2005 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Monkey Boy said...

wow,wow,wow
I juz cant saying WoW to all these poems, they're too deep.

I'm a forienger teen who's studying in singapore n found ur songs really cool esp the one "Save me". I did'nt get a chance to grab a ticket. I'm still sad abt it. Will there be anymore performances after the one at the Esplanade?

Can u tell me any places to get your songs in a bass guitar tab?formats?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 4:47:00 AM  
Blogger dweller said...

your vocal-presence is absolutely magical, totally all-encompassing. somehow, the lyrics of your songs reach out to many of us on a very personal note, that we can somewhat relate to the harmonical directions. thanks for the concert 5 hours ago.. kudos.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 9:48:00 AM  
Blogger |r3|and said...

Hi Corrinne!!

I went to your concert in the Esplanade on Wednesday! It was great!! Haha.. Well done! I love your singing...and of course when your jokes like "library..."
Thank for the autograph session!!
When will you be coming back for the next concert?
I want to get the photos ready for your signature!! Haha
Take Care!!

Friday, August 12, 2005 9:44:00 AM  
Blogger sunset_cozy said...

Good post! Helo corrinne! Im your great fans from Singapore! Unfotunately im unable to get your concert ticket as all are sold out! But it's Good news! Three CHEERS!!! hahaha...

Im so happy to know that you have a blog in web, i will come here often. U gonna take care and Enjoy your second album promotion!

I bought your second album, my favourite track is Everything is its time. It awesome! : )

Sunday, August 14, 2005 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger The Queen of Suds said...

Dear Corrinne, you have a lifelong fan in me. Thank God for making you the person you are, with your incredible ability to write songs that touch the core of the heart and reverberate endlessly. So, i sound pretty fanatical and a bit melodramatic but i am really quite normal. Please blog again soon.;-)

love,
sylvy
http://laundrydays.blogspot.com

Monday, August 15, 2005 9:44:00 AM  
Blogger xjorm said...

wow! i have to say i really love your songs! and how can u just have only OnE show in singapore?!?! next time, u gotta have at least TWENTY!!!! hah!

Friday, August 26, 2005 6:44:00 AM  
Blogger ~ babyduo said...

heya corrine...
i love pablo neruda ^^
i was introduced to him via il postino (a movie). he wrote lots of good poetry...

Monday, August 29, 2005 5:43:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Hi Corrinne.

I'm just a 15 year old due for his O levels in November, and I'll let you know, your songs are keeping me company till the wee hours in the night! It's the midnight oil I'm burning, your songs are beautiful and inspirational. My body literally goes into a state of carefree-ness and I feel so light, all ready for anything! Thank you for being in this joy tucked deep into my heart!

Saturday, September 10, 2005 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010 1:20:00 PM  

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