Poetry Friday: Neruda’s “Ode to My Socks”


“To feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know … widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things.”
~ Pablo Neruda ~

A confession: I can’t remember ever reading a poem by Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda until I read The Dreamer (Scholastic, 2010), which won the Pura Belpré Award in 2011. Pam Muñoz Ryan’s prose and Peter Sís’s illustrations work together seamlessly to tell the story of Neftali, a boy with deep curiosity about the natural world and a vivid imagination. This boy adopted the pen name Pablo Neruda to avoid the disapproval of his father, and the rest, as they say, is history.

            81NTAwaXnWL    Neruda

Just a year later, Monica Brown and Julie Paschkis created Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People (Henry Holt, 2011), a gorgeous picture book biography about Neruda. 

Together, these books are a wonderful introduction to Neruda’s poetry, which is infused with his “spirit of inquiry” as Ryan describes it in her author’s note to The Dreamer. In an interview with Robert Bly, Neruda advises young poets to “discover things, to be in the sea, to be in the mountains, and approach every living thing.” (This interview can be found in Neruda and Vallejo: Selected Poems, Beacon Press, 1971, edited by Robert Bly) Many of Neruda’s poems are perfect for sharing with children. Along with his directive “to look deeply into objects at rest,” they will inspire children to create their own “odes to common things.”

Ode to My Socks
by Pablo Neruda

Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
Violent socks,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.
Read the rest of the poem here.
To discover more wonderful poetry, please be sure to visit Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at The Poem Farm for the first Poetry Friday Round Up of National Poetry Month.

Poetry Friday: “I Am Poetry”


I have spent the past week at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s Summer Reading Institute. My brain is bursting with all I have learned from my amazing section leaders and the keynote speakers. My senses are overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of New York City in August. My life is richer because of people I have met and friends I have made. It has been a glorious week.

How could I possibly choose a poem to share today that reflects my week? By focusing on one small piece of my experience.

Each teacher was given a book at the beginning of the week to use as a mentor text for the work of the Institue. I received Becoming Naomi León (Scholastic Press, 2004) by Pam Muñoz Ryan. I have loved every book I’ve read by Ryan, but somehow, I had missed this beautiful story about a young girl finding her true self. Pam Muñoz Ryan’s writing is so lyrical, I wondered if she’d written any poetry. A quick search reminded me about The Dreamer, Ryan’s lovely book about the young Pablo Neruda and led me to this poem:

“I Am Poetry”

by Pam Muñoz Ryan

I am poetry,

waiting to seize the poet.

I ask the questions

for which all answers


I choose no one.

I choose every one.

Come closer…

…if you dare.

I am poetry,

lurking in dappled shadow.

I am the confusion

of root

and gnarled branch.

I am the symmetry

of insect,


and a bird’s outstretched wings.

Read the rest of the poem here.

If you haven’t read Becoming Naomi León, The Dreamer, or any of Ryan’s other novels for children, read one today. You’ll be glad you did. 

Please be sure to visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe for the Poetry Friday Round Up.