The General Song Of Humanity

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

On the coast of Chile where Neruda lived it's well known that seabirds often steal letters out of mailboxes which they would like to scan for various reasons Shall I enumerate the reasons? they are quite clear even given the silence of birds on the subject (except when they speak of it among themselves between cries) First of all they steal the letters because they sense that the General Song of the words of everyone hidden in these letters must certainly bear the keys to the heart itself of humanity which the birds themselves have never been able to fathom (in fact entertaining much doubt that there actually are hearts in humans) And then these birds have a further feeling that their own general Song might somehow be enriched by these strange cries of humans (What a weird bird-brain idea that our twitterings might enlighten them) But when they stole away with neruda's own letters out of his mailbox at Isla Negra they were in fact stealing back their own Canto General which he had originally gathered from them with their omniveriious & ecstaic sweeping vision But now that Neruda is dead no more such letters are written and they must play it by ear again- the high great Song in the heart of our blood & silence