Poetry & the Postman

Poetry, letters and movies are a few of my favorite things so my heart was lifted when the three came together this weekend in one fabulous, forgotten film: Il Postino.

Set on a remote Italian island, Il Postino is the fictional story of a tender-hearted mailman whose life is transformed by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who offers lessons on love, life and poetry.

I’d seen the movie before — in 1996 when it was first released and hailed by audiences and critics alike — but I had forgotten the details of the quiet tale. So, it was a wonderful surprise to enjoy the film again a dozen years later, and from a fresh, poetry-loving perspective.

I won’t give away the details. It’s too much of a gem to let the magic loose. Just find it, watch it, and see your own ordinary life anew.


Pablo Neruda

And it was at that age . . . poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, not silence,
but from a street it called me,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among raging fires
or returning alone,
there it was, without a face,
and it touched me.

I didn't know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind.
Something knocked in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first, faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing;
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
the darkness perforated,
with arrows, fire, and flowers,
the overpowering night, the universe.

And I, tiny being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss.
I wheeled with the stars.
My heart broke loose with the wind.