The other day walking through Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, on the steep rise up its little “mountain” known as Mount Morris, I saw a chair sitting in the midst of a patch of Nature: boulders, trees, hawks. The chair, most likely a scavanged find, had clearly been placed there, perhaps to be used as a perfect lookout, or a sculpture. I climbed up to take a look. It echoed Neruda’s line “Peace begins in single chair”, from his Ode to the Chair… a chair in the jungle…unlikely and perfect for “the walkabout man”…me.

Ode to the chair

A chair in the jungle:
under the severe lianas
a sacred tree trunk creaks,
tangles of vines press high,
in the shadows
bloody beasts cry out,
majestic leaves descend from the green sky,
the rattles of snakes
quiver like bells.
A bird spanned the sprawling greenness,
like an arrow shot through a flag,
and branches hoisted high their violins.
Insects
pray in stillness,
seated on their wild bouquets.
Feet sink into
the black sargasso
of the watery jungle,
into the rainforest’s tumbled clouds.
I only request one thing
for the stranger,
for the desperate
explorer,
a chair in the tree of chairs,
a throne,
disheveled and plush,
the velvet of a deep easy chair,
eaten away by creepers.
Yes,
a chair, 
loving the universe, 
for the walkabout man, 
the sure 
foundation, 
the supreme 
dignity 
of rest! 

Behind thirsty tigers,
bands of bloodthirsty flies,
behind the black expanse
of ghost-ridden leaves,
behind the low waters,
the thicket like iron,
perpetual snakes,
in the middle
of the thunder,
a chair,
a chair 
for me, 
for everyone, 
a chair not 
only for the weary body’s 
rescue, 
but also for everything, 
and for everybody, 
to renew lost strength, 
and for meditation. 

War is wide like the light-starved jungle.
Peace 
begins 
in 

single 
chair.

Such a good unlikely spot for a chair…Why not put an old indoor chair outdoors, for as long as it lasts? Someone was thinking wisely/broadly/imaginatively there…as in this outdoor “room” photographed by Christopher Baker. (Dig the old apholstered armchair, a fine way to enjoy the view)…

Christopher Baker
Christopher Baker

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

2 replies on “a brilliant, unlikely spot for a chair + Pablo Neruda’s Ode

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