Tonight I Can Write (The Saddest Lines) by Pablo Neruda translated by W. S. Merwin

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, ‘The night is starry and the stars are blue and 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 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 starry 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 tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
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. As she was before my kisses.
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.

 

Drunk as drunk by Pablo Neruda

Drunk as drunk on turpentine
From your open kisses,
Your wet body wedged
Between my wet body and the strake
Of our boat that is made of flowers,
Feasted, we guide it – our fingers
Like tallows adorned with yellow metal –
Over the sky’s hot rim,
The day’s last breath in our sails.

Pinned by the sun between solstice
And equinox, drowsy and tangled together
We drifted for months and woke
With the bitter taste of land on our lips,
Eyelids all sticky, and we longed for lime
And the sound of a rope
Lowering a bucket down its well. Then,
We came by night to the Fortunate Isles,
And lay like fish
Under the net of our kisses

Poem IX
Ebrio de trementina y largos besos,
estival, el velero de las rosas dirijo,
torcido hacia la muerte del delgado día,
cimentado en el sólido frenesí marino.
Pálido y amarrado a mi agua devorante
cruzo en el agrio olor del clima descubierto,
aún vestido de gris y sonidos amargos,
y una cimera triste de abandonada espuma.
Voy, duro de pasiones, montado en mi ola única,
lunar, solar, ardiente y frío, repentino,
dormido en la garganta de las afortunadas
islas blancas y dulces como caderas frescas.
Tiembla en la noche húmeda mi vestido de besos
locamente cargado de eléctricas gestiones,
de modo heroico dividido en sueños
y embriagadoras rosas practicándose en mí.
Aguas arriba, en medio de las olas externas,
tu paralelo cuerpo se sujeta en mis brazos
como un pez infinitamente pegado a mi alma
rápido y lento en la energía subceleste.

Through a Closed Mouth the Flies Enter by Pablo Neruda translated from the Spanish by Stephen Mitchell

Why with those red flames
are rubies ready to burn?
Why does the heart of the topaz
have yellow honeycombs?
Why does the rose amuse itself
by changing the color of its dreams?
Why does the emerald grow cold
like a drowned submarine?
And why does the sky turn pale
over the June stars?
Where does the lizard’s tail
buy its fresh paint?
Where is the underground fire
that resurrects the carnations?
Where does the salt get
that transparent gaze?
Where did the coals sleep
that they got up so dark?
And where, where does the tiger buy
stripes of mourning, stripes of gold?
When did the honeysuckle begin
to know its perfume?
When did the pinetree realize
its fragrant effect?
When did the lemons learn
the same catechism as the sun?
When did smoke learn to fly?
When do the roots converse?
What is water like in the stars?
Why is the scorpion poisonous,
why is the elephant benign?
What does the tortoise meditate on?
Where does the shade withdraw?
What song does the rain repeat?
Where do the birds go to die?
And why are the leaves green?
What we know is so little
and what we presume is so much
and we learn so slowly
that we ask and then we die.
Better to keep our pride
for the city of the dead
on the day of the departed
and there when the wind goes through
the hollows of your skull
it will decipher these enigmas for you,
whispering the truth in the space
where your ears used to be.

I Crave Your Mouth, Your Voice, Your Hair by Pablo Neruda Translated by Stephen Tapscott

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.
I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,
and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.
I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.
I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,
and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.