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Ode To an Artichoke

Ode To an Artichoke

The artichoke
Of delicate heart
Erect
In its battle-dress, builds
Its minimal cupola;
Keeps
Stark
In its scallop of
Scales.
Around it,
Demoniac vegetables
Bristle their thicknesses,
Devise
Tendrils and belfries,
The bulb’s agitations;
While under the subsoil
The carrot
Sleeps sound in its
Rusty mustaches.
Runner and filaments
Bleach in the vineyards,
Whereon rise the vines.
The sedulous cabbage
Arranges its petticoats;
Oregano
Sweetens a world;
And the artichoke
Dulcetly there in a gardenplot,
Armed for a skirmish,
Goes proud
In its pomegranate
Burnishes.
Till, on a day,
Each by the other,
The artichoke moves
To its dream
Of a market place
In the big willow
Hoppers:
A battle formation.
Most warlike
Of defilades-
With men
In the market stalls,
White shirts
In the soup-greens,
Artichoke field marshals,
Close-order conclaves,
Commands, detonations,
And voices,
A crashing of crate staves.

And
Maria
Come
Down
With her hamper
To
Make trial
Of an artichoke:
She reflects, she examines,
She candles them up to the light like an egg,
Never flinching;
She bargains,
She tumbles her prize
In a market bag
Among shoes and a
Cabbage head,
A bottle
Of vinegar; is back
In her kitchen.
The artichoke drowns in a pot.

So you have it:
A vegetable, armed,
A profession
(call it an artichoke)
Whose end
Is millennial.
We taste of that
Sweetness,
Dismembering scale after scale.
We eat of a halcyon paste:
It is green at the artichoke heart.



Poem Ode To an Artichoke - Pablo Neruda