Monday, July 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Pablo Neruda - "Tonight I can write the saddest of lines ..."


I love this photo of Pablo Neruda because he looks both happy and regular. A nice guy enjoying his life. A few years ago I had a birthday party for him and we all drank Chilean drinks and brought a Neruda poem to read. One of my friends even brought a tape recorder (!) and a tape of him reading his work. This was pre-youtube. His birthday is close to mine so I got to celebrate vicariously. One day I would like to make the pilgrimage to Isla Negra. In the meantime, here is one of my favorite poems.


Tonight I can write the saddest lines


Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example,'The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her
voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my
soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.


Pablo Neruda (W.S. Merwin, translation)

5 comments:

  1. This is one of my absolute favorite Neruda poems. Thanks for the memory.

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  2. Sandy, I found this poem when I was in my mid-twenties. I still remember where I was the first time I read it. The intensity of the words was that strong. It rocked my world.

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  3. What a lot of fine that must have been to celebrate Neruda's birthday. Chilean wines are lovely.

    Beautiful poem. I, too, "found" Neruda in my early '20s and often share his poems still.

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