The poem Keeping Quiet

The poem Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda highlights the necessity to be quiet while pondering about the life we have on earth. I like the poem because it discusses the need for mutual understanding between men in the current environment filled with environmental damages. In our present hectic life cycles, encompassed by fast moving lifestyles, man shows least concern for nature since they only move ahead single minded without understanding the plight of others. Men presently live their lives full of strife and with little understanding of the causes of their sadness. The poem is interesting because we are able to realize that a minute of silence will enable us to understand ourselves and what we stand for as one community.

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This simple poem talks about self analysis and the need to build a new world. It means that self analysis would only come when we are able to find time for meditation. Like Tolle’s  book A New Earth that says “…..main purpose is not to add new information or beliefs to your mind or to try to convince you of anything, but to bring about a shift in consciousness, that is to say, to awaken" (Tolle, 6). The poem awakens us for the need to think about others in our daily endeavors. The poem advocates for peace and its tone seems to come from an individual who had seen the consequences of war and the effect environmental degradation does to man. The tone is that of a man who knows what it is that man does to make their environment worse. He pleads with mankind to allow twelve minutes of silence in order to make the world a better place. The poet says, “Let’s stop for one second/and not move our arms so much” (Shull, 56). This means that men using firearms or using weapons to fight others should stop and think whether what they are doing is good to mankind or their environment. He assures the reader that anybody without awareness of their action spreads ignorance around them.

Our attention is directed to the nature to explore the benefits man gets from nature. The poem informs us that nature can hold back what it gives only to give it back at a latter date as a better output. The use of letter twelve is very significant of different times in mans life. For example daily we have twelve hours day and twelve hours of the night. He therefore directs us to take either of the twelve hours to stop and think about our life. The next twelve comes from the scriptures where we find the twelve gates of Revelation that stand for the twelve tribes. At the gates are twelve foundations decorated with twelve precious stones. Twelve in the bible is symbolic of God’s governance. This is also symbolically represented in the poem Keeping Quiet. Other symbolic twelve are the twelve days of Christmas and the twelve months that make up a year. Twelve in the poem is a representation one oneness explained by the oneness of a clock i.e. since at the strike of twelve a clock becomes one, man should unite to be one at twelve.

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The poet informs the reader through his lyrical verse that the world we are living in is at the edge of destruction. The planet is currently ailing and people in it are crying for help. It has come to this because humans are self centered and at the same time we are the culprits of our own actions. Men have been responsible for killing their fellow brother in the name of war that has no end. Men have been responsible for all the confusion and disorder facing the world today. The world is currently experiencing racism, bloodshed as a result of war, and divisions since people concentrate on their self interest. We are also destroying nature because of our greed and harmful deeds. We are informed by the poet that before it is too late, we should at least try to retrospect at the count of twelve. We should be responsible enough to come together no matter the color of the skin or race for the cause of saving the future. We should try to come together for the sake of peace and good neighborliness. Peace is important to the world that the material wealth since it forms a safe environment for the future generation. Taking time to meditate will enable us counter the wrongs we have committed and thus we will be able to hand over the rich and beautiful legacy made to the upcoming generation. We should be sure that everything on earth is not owned since they are things borrowed from the ancestors. We should be creative enough to stop the destructive culture that is creeping upon us since life matter more that selfishness. This will only be possible if we take a little time to meditate just like Tolle’s suggestion that “As a spiritual practice, I suggest that you investigate your relationship with the world of things through self-observation” (Tolle, 38)

The poet has used irony in stanza four where he tells us that men fight for victory but wars end without survivors. The irony used here explains why there is no need for war since no body comes back alive. He chooses his words thus, “victories with no survivors,/would put on clean clothes/and walk about with their brothers” (Shull, 56). His use of these words conveys a different meaning altogether since he explains the need to avoid wars.

Imagery has been used to highlight the need to stop environmental pollution. He has specifically used metaphor to represent this phenomenon. In line one of the fourth stanza the poet writes, “those who prepare green wars” (Shull, 56), to mean the destruction done to the environment. The poet associates environmental pollution to the act of war where developed countries destroy the environment as a result of their carbon emissions. He uses ‘war’ to show the extremes in which pollution has had on the environment and as a result affecting the earth’s population.

The poet has used consonance in the last line of the second stanza thus “sudden strangeness” to stress on the outcome of the twelve minutes of silence. He stresses that after keeping quite, we are able to experience a different kind of moment without noise from engines and rush that is currently eminent from the use airplanes, speedboats and vehicles. Consequently, repetitions used in 1st and 2nd lines are also stressing the need to keep quiet. The language used in the poem is simple with easy vocabularies. The choice of language exposes the tone he uses to explain the need to be silent for a while.

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In essence, the poem talks about the need to introspect in order to develop a feeling of mutual understanding, respect, and love among human kind. The poet counts to twelve a time when we will all stay still and meditate about the need for togetherness. He requires everybody not to speak any language but communicate silently through their souls. The resultant silence he says will evoke an exotic moment between us. We will not therefore experience the rush and the noise we currently are exposed to.

Fishermen on the other hand, he says will stop killing and the men gathering salt will take a moment to look at their hurt hands destroyed by the burden of their labor. He explains that people planning all kinds of war will stop to think and walk about with others in a friendly manner while doing nothing. He warns of total inactivity or death since it is not what he is addressing. He feels that people are currently absorbed in meeting the needs of their lives while forgetting that they should take a moment to reflect on themselves and others around them. By observing a few moments of silence, he says that man is able to unite in strange silence that would help us understand one another better. 

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