Pablo Neruda's Poems

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was born in Parral, Chile. He studied in Santiago in the twenties. From 1927 to 1945 he was the Chilean consul in Rangoon, in Java, and then in Barcelona. He joined the Communist Party after the Second World War. Between 1970 and 1973 he served in Allende’s Chilean Government as ambassador to Paris. He died shortly after the coup that ended the Allende Government.

I'm Explaining a Few Things

You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs?
and the poppy-petalled metaphysics?
and the rain repeatedly spattering
its words and drilling them full
of apertures and birds?
I'll tell you all the news.
I lived in a suburb,
a suburb of Madrid, with bells,
and clocks, and trees.
From there you could look out
over Castille's dry face:
a leather ocean.
My house was called
the house of flowers, because in every cranny
geraniums burst: it was
a good-looking house
with its dogs and children.
Remember, Raul?
Eh, Rafel? Federico, do you remember
from under the ground
my balconies on which
the light of June drowned flowers in your mouth?
Brother, my brother!
Everything
loud with big voices, the salt of merchandises,
pile-ups of palpitating bread,
the stalls of my suburb of Arguelles with its statue
like a drained inkwell in a swirl of hake:
oil flowed into spoons,
a deep baying
of feet and hands swelled in the streets,
metres, litres, the sharp
measure of life,
stacked-up fish,
the texture of roofs with a cold sun in which
the weather vane falters,
the fine, frenzied ivory of potatoes,
wave on wave of tomatoes rolling down the sea.
And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings --
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children's blood.
Jackals that the jackals would despise,
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate!
Face to face with you I have seen the blood
of Spain tower like a tide
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives!
Treacherous
generals:
see my dead house,
look at broken Spain :
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers,
from every socket of Spain
Spain emerges
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes,
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull's eye of your hearts.
And you'll ask: why doesn't his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land?
Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
The blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
In the streets!

Pablo Neruda


‘In the wave-strike over unquiet stones’

In the wave-strike over unquiet stones
the brightness bursts and bears the rose
and the ring of water contracts to a cluster
to one drop of azure brine that falls.
O magnolia radiance breaking in spume,
magnetic voyager whose death flowers
and returns, eternal, to being and nothingness:
shattered brine, dazzling leap of the ocean.
Merged, you and I, my love, seal the silence
while the sea destroys its continual forms,
collapses its turrets of wildness and whiteness,
because in the weft of those unseen garments
of headlong water, and perpetual sand,
we bear the sole, relentless tenderness.

Pablo Neruda


‘March days return with their covert light’

March days return with their covert light,
and huge fish swim through the sky,
vague earthly vapours progress in secret,
things slip to silence one by one.
Through fortuity, at this crisis of errant skies,
you reunite the lives of the sea to that of fire,
grey lurchings of the ship of winter
to the form that love carved in the guitar.
O love, O rose soaked by mermaids and spume,
dancing flame that climbs the invisible stairway,
to waken the blood in insomnia’s labyrinth,
so that the waves can complete themselves in the sky,
the sea forget its cargoes and rages,
and the world fall into darkness’s nets.

Pablo Neruda


‘Carnal apple, Woman filled, burning moon,’

Carnal apple, Woman filled, burning moon,
dark smell of seaweed, crush of mud and light,
what secret knowledge is clasped between your pillars?
What primal night does Man touch with his senses?
Ay, Love is a journey through waters and stars,
through suffocating air, sharp tempests of grain:
Love is a war of lightning,
and two bodies ruined by a single sweetness.
Kiss by kiss I cover your tiny infinity,
your margins, your rivers, your diminutive villages,
and a genital fire, transformed by delight,
slips through the narrow channels of blood
to precipitate a nocturnal carnation,
to be, and be nothing but light in the dark.

Pablo Neruda


A Dog Has Died

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.
Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.
Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.
No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.
Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.
Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.
There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.
So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.
Translated, from the Spanish, by Alfred Yankauer

Pablo Neruda


‘Perhaps not to be is to be without your being.’

Perhaps not to be is to be without your being,
without your going, that cuts noon light
like a blue flower, without your passing
later through fog and stones,
without the torch you lift in your hand
that others may not see as golden,
that perhaps no one believed blossomed
the glowing origin of the rose,
without, in the end, your being, your coming
suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life,
blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze:
and it follows that I am, because you are:
it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we:
and, because of love, you will, I will,
We will, come to be.

Pablo Neruda


Absence

I have scarcely left you
When you go in me, crystalline,
Or trembling,
Or uneasy, wounded by me
Or overwhelmed with love, as
when your eyes
Close upon the gift of life
That without cease I give you.
My love,
We have found each other
Thirsty and we have
Drunk up all the water and the
Blood,
We found each other
Hungry
And we bit each other
As fire bites,
Leaving wounds in us.
But wait for me,
Keep for me your sweetness.
I will give you too
A rose.

Pablo Neruda


Algunas Bestias

Era el crepúsculo de la iguana.
Desde la arcoirisada crestería
su leengua como un dardo
se hundía en la verdura,
el hormiguero monacal pisaba
con melodioso pie la selva,
el guanaco fino como el oxigeno
en las anchas alturas pardas
iba calzando botas de oro,
mientras la llama abria cándidos
ojos en la delicadeza
del mundo lleno de rocio.
Los monos trenzaban un hilo
interminablemente erótico
en las riberas de la aurora,
derribando muros de polen
y espantando el vuelo violeta
de las mariposas de Muzo
Era la noche de los caimanes,
la noche pura y pululante
de hocicos saliendo del légamo,
y de las ciénagas soñolientas
un ruido opaco de armaduras
volvía al origen terrestre.
El jaguar tocaba las hojas
con su ausencia fosforescente,
el puma corre en el ramaje
como el fuego devorador
mientras arden en él los ojos
alcohólicos de la selva.
Los tejones rascan los pies
del río, husmean el nido
cuya delicia palpitante
atacarán con dientes rojos.
Y en el fondo del agua magna,
como el círulo de la tierra,
está la gigante anaconda
cubierta de barros rituales,
devoradora y religiosa.

Pablo Neruda


A Lemon

Out of lemon flowers
loosed
on the moonlight, love's
lashed and insatiable
essences,
sodden with fragrance,
the lemon tree's yellow
emerges,
the lemons
move down
from the tree's planetarium
Delicate merchandise!
The harbors are big with itbazaars
for the light and the
barbarous gold.
We open
the halves
of a miracle,
and a clotting of acids
brims
into the starry
divisions:
creation's
original juices,
irreducible, changeless,
alive:
so the freshness lives on
in a lemon,
in the sweet-smelling house of the rind,
the proportions, arcane and acerb.
Cutting the lemon
the knife
leaves a little cathedral:
alcoves unguessed by the eye
that open acidulous glass
to the light; topazes
riding the droplets,
altars,
aromatic facades.
So, while the hand
holds the cut of the lemon,
half a world
on a trencher,
the gold of the universe
wells
to your touch:
a cup yellow
with miracles,
a breast and a nipple
perfuming the earth;
a flashing made fruitage,
the diminutive fire of a planet.

Pablo Neruda


A Song of Despair

The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.
Deserted like the dwarves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!
Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.
In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.
You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!
It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.
Pilot's dread, fury of blind driver,
turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!
In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.
Lost discoverer, in you everything sank!
You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,
sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!
I made the wall of shadow draw back,
beyond desire and act, I walked on.
Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost,
I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.
Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness.
and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.
There was the black solitude of the islands,
and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.
There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.
Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me
in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms!
How terrible and brief my desire was to you!
How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.
Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs,
still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.
Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs,
oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.
Oh the mad coupling of hope and force
in which we merged and despaired.
And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.
And the word scarcely begun on the lips.
This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my longing,
and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank!
Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you,
what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned!
From billow to billow you still called and sang.
Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.
You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents.
Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.
Pale blind diver, luckless slinger,
lost discoverer, in you everything sank!
It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour
which the night fastens to all the timetables.
The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.
Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.
Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.
It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!

Pablo Neruda


Bird

It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air -
and there, night came in.
When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography -
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.

Pablo Neruda


Brown and Agile Child

Brown and agile child, the sun which forms the fruit
And ripens the grain and twists the seaweed
Has made your happy body and your luminous eyes
And given your mouth the smile of water.
A black and anguished sun is entangled in the twigs
Of your black mane when you hold out your arms.
You play in the sun as in a tidal river
And it leaves two dark pools in your eyes.
Brown and agile child, nothing draws me to you,
Everything pulls away from me here in the noon.
You are the delirious youth of bee,
The drunkedness of the wave, the power of the heat.
My somber heart seeks you always
I love your happy body, your rich, soft voice.
Dusky butterfly, sweet and sure
Like the wheatfiled, the sun, the poppy, and the water.

Pablo Neruda


Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu

Arise to birth with me, my brother.
Give me your hand out of the depths
sown by your sorrows.
You will not return from these stone fastnesses.
You will not emerge from subterranean time.
Your rasping voice will not come back,
nor your pierced eyes rise from their sockets.
Look at me from the depths of the earth,
tiller of fields, weaver, reticent shepherd,
groom of totemic guanacos,
mason high on your treacherous scaffolding,
iceman of Andean tears,
jeweler with crushed fingers,
farmer anxious among his seedlings,
potter wasted among his clays--
bring to the cup of this new life
your ancient buried sorrows.
Show me your blood and your furrow;
say to me: here I was scourged
because a gem was dull or because the earth
failed to give up in time its tithe of corn or stone.
Point out to me the rock on which you stumbled,
the wood they used to crucify your body.
Strike the old flints
to kindle ancient lamps, light up the whips
glued to your wounds throughout the centuries
and light the axes gleaming with your blood.
I come to speak for your dead mouths.
Throughout the earth
let dead lips congregate,
out of the depths spin this long night to me
as if I rode at anchor here with you.
And tell me everything, tell chain by chain,
and link by link, and step by step;
sharpen the knives you kept hidden away,
thrust them into my breast, into my hands,
like a torrent of sunbursts,
an Amazon of buried jaguars,
and leave me cry: hours, days and years,
blind ages, stellar centuries.
And give me silence, give me water, hope.
Give me the struggle, the iron, the volcanoes.
Let bodies cling like magnets to my body.
Come quickly to my veins and to my mouth.
Speak through my speech, and through my blood.

Pablo Neruda


Castro Alves From Brazil

Castro Alves from Brazil, for whom did you sing?
Did you sing for the flower? For the water
whose beauty whispered words to the stones?
Did you sing to the eyes, to the torn profile
of the woman you once loved? For the spring?
Yes, but those petals were not dewed,
those black waters had no words,
those eyes were those who saw death,
still burning the tortures behind love,
Spring was splashed with blood.
I sang for the slaves, aboard the ships
as a dark branch of wrath.
They travelled, and bled from the ships
leaving us the weight of a stolen blood.
I sang in those days against the inferno,
against the sharp languages of greed,
against the gold drenched in the torment,
against the hand that rose the whip,
against the maestros of darkness.
Each rose had one dead man in their roots.
The light, the night, the sky were covered in tears,
the eyes separated from wounded hands
and it was my voice the only one to fill the silence.
I wanted that from the man we could be rescued,
I believed that the route passed through the man,
and from there destiny would be made.
I sang for those who had no voice.
My voice hit doors that until then were closed
so that, fighting, Freedom could be let in.
Castro Alves from Brazil, now that your pure book
is reborn to a free land,
let me, poet of our America,
to crown your head with the laurels of the people.
Your voice joined the eternal and loud voice of the men.
You sang well. You sang how it must be sung.

Pablo Neruda


Chant to Bolivar

Our Father thou art in Heaven,
in water, in air
in all our silent and broad latitude
everything bears your name, Father in our dwelling:
your name raises sweetness in sugar cane
Bolivar tin has a Bolivar gleam
the Bolívar bird flies over the Bolivar volcano
the potato, the saltpeter, the special shadows,
the brooks, the phosphorous stone veins
everything comes from your extinguished life
your legacy was rivers, plains, bell towers
your legacy is our daily bread, oh Father.

Pablo Neruda


Clenched Soul

We have lost even this twilight.
No one saw us this evening hand in hand
while the blue night dropped on the world.
I have seen from my window
the fiesta of sunset in the distant mountain tops.
Sometimes a piece of sun
burned like a coin in my hand.
I remembered you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know.
Where were you then?
Who else was there?
Saying what?
Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly
when I am sad and feel you are far away?
The book fell that always closed at twilight
and my blue sweater rolled like a hurt dog at my feet.
Always, always you recede through the evenings
toward the twilight erasing statues.

Pablo Neruda


Death Alone

There are lone cemeteries,
tombs full of soundless bones,
the heart threading a tunnel,
a dark, dark tunnel :
like a wreck we die to the very core,
as if drowning at the heart
or collapsing inwards from skin to soul.
There are corpses,
clammy slabs for feet,
there is death in the bones,
like a pure sound,
a bark without its dog,
out of certain bells, certain tombs
swelling in this humidity like lament or rain.
I see, when alone at times,
coffins under sail
setting out with the pale dead, women in their dead braids,
bakers as white as angels,
thoughtful girls married to notaries,
coffins ascending the vertical river of the dead,
the wine-dark river to its source,
with their sails swollen with the sound of death,
filled with the silent noise of death.
Death is drawn to sound
like a slipper without a foot, a suit without its wearer,
comes to knock with a ring, stoneless and fingerless,
comes to shout without a mouth, a tongue, without a throat.
Nevertheless its footsteps sound
and its clothes echo, hushed like a tree.
I do not know, I am ignorant, I hardly see
but it seems to me that its song has the colour of wet violets,
violets well used to the earth,
since the face of death is green,
and the gaze of death green
with the etched moisture of a violet's leaf
and its grave colour of exasperated winter.
But death goes about the earth also, riding a broom
lapping the ground in search of the dead -
death is in the broom,
it is the tongue of death looking for the dead,
the needle of death looking for the thread.
Death lies in our beds :
in the lazy mattresses, the black blankets,
lives a full stretch and then suddenly blows,
blows sound unknown filling out the sheets
and there are beds sailing into a harbour
where death is waiting, dressed as an admiral.

Pablo Neruda


Enigma with Flower

Victory. It has come late, I had not learnt
how to arrive, like the lily, at will,
the white figure, that pierces
the motionless eternity of earth,
pushing at clear, faint, form,
till the hour strikes: that clay,
with a white ray, or a spur of milk.
Shedding of clothing, the thick darkness of soil,
on whose cliff the fair flower advances,
till the flag of its whiteness
defeats the contemptible deep of night,
and, from the motion of light,
spills itself in astonished seed.

Pablo Neruda


Entrance Of The Rivers

Beloved of the rivers,beset
By azure water and transparent drops,
Like a tree of veins your spectre
Of dark goddess biting apples:
And then awakening naked
To be tattoed by the rivers,
And in the wet heights your head
Filled the world with new dew.
Water rose to your waist,
You are made of wellsprings
And lakes shone on your forehead.
From your sources of density you drew
Water like vital tears
And hauled the riverbeds to the sand
Across the planetary night,
Crossing rough, dilated stone,
Breaking down on the way
All the salt of geology,
Cutting through forests of compact walls
Dislodging the muscles of quartz.

Pablo Neruda


Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks

All those men were there inside,
when she came in totally naked.
They had been drinking: they began to spit.
Newly come from the river, she knew nothing.
She was a mermaid who had lost her way.
The insults flowed down her gleaming flesh.
Obscenities drowned her golden breasts.
Not knowing tears, she did not weep tears.
Not knowing clothes, she did not have clothes.
They blackened her with burnt corks and cigarette stubs,
and rolled around laughing on the tavern floor.
She did not speak because she had no speech.
Her eyes were the colour of distant love,
her twin arms were made of white topaz.
Her lips moved, silent, in a coral light,
and suddenly she went out by that door.
Entering the river she was cleaned,
shining like a white stone in the rain,
and without looking back she swam again
swam towards emptiness, swam towards death.

Pablo Neruda


Finale

Matilde, years or days
sleeping, feverish,
here or there,
gazing off,
twisting my spine,
bleeding true blood,
perhaps I awaken
or am lost, sleeping:
hospital beds, foreign windows,
white uniforms of the silent walkers,
the clumsiness of feet.
And then, these journeys
and my sea of renewal:
your head on the pillow,
your hands floating
in the light, in my light,
over my earth.
It was beautiful to live
when you lived!
The world is bluer and of the earth
at night, when I sleep
enormous, within your small hands

Pablo Neruda


Fleas interest me so much

Fleas interest me so much
that I let them bite me for hours.
They are perfect, ancient, Sanskrit,
machines that admit of no appeal.
They do not bite to eat,
they bite only to jump;
they are the dancers of the celestial sphere,
delicate acrobats
in the softest and most profound circus;
let them gallop on my skin,
divulge their emotions,
amuse themselves with my blood,
but someone should introduce them to me.
I want to know them closely,
I want to know what to rely on.

Pablo Neruda


Gautama Christ

The names of God and especially those of His representative
Who is called Jesus or Christ according to holy books and
someone's mouth
These names have been used, worn out and left
On the shores of rivers of of human lives
Like the empty shells of a mollusk.
However when we touch these sacred but exhausted
Names, these wounded scattered petals
Which have come out of the oceans of love and fear
Something still remains, a sip of water,
A rainbow footprint that still shimmers in the light.
While the names of God were used
By the best and the worst, by the clean and the dirty
By the white and the black, by bloody murderers
And by victims flaming gold with napalm
While Nixon with his hands
Of Cain blessed those whom he condemned to death,
While fewer and fewer divine footprints were found
on the beach
People began to study colors,
The future of honey, the sign of uranium
They looked with anxiety and hope for the possibilities
Of killing themselves or not killing themselves, of organizing
themselves into a fabric
Of going further on, of breaking through limits without stopping
What we came across in these blood thirsty times
With their smoke of burning trash, their dead ashes
As we weren't able to stop looking
We often stopped to look at the names of God
We lifted them with tenderness because they reminded us
Of our ancestors, of the first people, those who said the prayers
Those who discovered the hymn that united them in misfortune
And now seeing the empty fragments which sheltered those
ancient people
We feel those smooth substances,
Worn out and used up by good and by evil.

Pablo Neruda


Here I Love You

Here I love you.
In the dark pines the wind disentangles itself.
The moon glows like phosphorous on the vagrant waters.
Days, all one kind, go chasing each other.
The snow unfurls in dancing figures.
A silver gull slips down from the west.
Sometimes a sail. High, high stars.
Oh the black cross of a ship.
Alone.
Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.
Far away the sea sounds and resounds.
This is a port.
Here I love you.
Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain.
I love you still among these cold things.
Sometimes my kisses go on those heavy vessels
that cross the sea towards no arrival.
I see myself forgotten like those old anchors.
The piers sadden when the afternoon moors there.
My life grows tired, hungry to no purpose.
I love what I do not have. You are so far.
My loathing wrestles with the slow twilights.
But night comes and starts to sing to me.
The moon turns its clockwork dream.
The biggest stars look at me with your eyes.
And as I love you, the pines in the wind
want to sing your name with their leaves of wire.

Pablo Neruda


Always

I am not jealous
of what came before me.
Come with a man
on your shoulders,
come with a hundred men in your hair,
come with a thousand men between your breasts and your feet,
come like a river
full of drowned men
which flows down to the wild sea,
to the eternal surf, to Time!
Bring them all
to where I am waiting for you;
we shall always be alone,
we shall always be you and I
alone on earth,
to start our life!

Pablo Neruda


And because Love battles

And because love battles
not only in its burning agricultures
but also in the mouth of men and women,
I will finish off by taking the path away
to those who between my chest and your fragrance
want to interpose their obscure plant.
About me, nothing worse
they will tell you, my love,
than what I told you.
I lived in the prairies
before I got to know you
and I did not wait love but I was
laying in wait for and I jumped on the rose.
What more can they tell you?
I am neither good nor bad but a man,
and they will then associate the danger
of my life, which you know
and which with your passion you shared.
And good, this danger
is danger of love, of complete love
for all life,
for all lives,
and if this love brings us
the death and the prisons,
I am sure that your big eyes,
as when I kiss them,
will then close with pride,
into double pride, love,
with your pride and my pride.
But to my ears they will come before
to wear down the tour
of the sweet and hard love which binds us,
and they will say: “The one
you love,
is not a woman for you,
Why do you love her? I think
you could find one more beautiful,
more serious, more deep,
more other, you understand me, look how she’s light,
and what a head she has,
and look at how she dresses,
and etcetera and etcetera”.
And I in these lines say:
Like this I want you, love,
love, Like this I love you,
as you dress
and how your hair lifts up
and how your mouth smiles,
light as the water
of the spring upon the pure stones,
Like this I love you, beloved.
To bread I do not ask to teach me
but only not to lack during every day of life.
I don’t know anything about light, from where
it comes nor where it goes,
I only want the light to light up,
I do not ask to the night
explanations,
I wait for it and it envelops me,
And so you, bread and light
And shadow are.
You came to my life
with what you were bringing,
made
of light and bread and shadow I expected you,
and Like this I need you,
Like this I love you,
and to those who want to hear tomorrow
that which I will not tell them, let them read it here,
and let them back off today because it is early
for these arguments.
Tomorrow we will only give them
a leaf of the tree of our love, a leaf
which will fall on the earth
like if it had been made by our lips
like a kiss which falls
from our invincible heights
to show the fire and the tenderness
of a true love.

Pablo Neruda


I Remember You As You Were

I remember you as you were in the last autumn.
You were the grey beret and the still heart.
In your eyes the flames of the twilight fought on.
And the leaves fell in the water of your soul.
Clasping my arms like a climbing plant
the leaves garnered your voice, that was slow and at peace.
Bonfire of awe in which my thirst was burning.
Sweet blue hyacinth twisted over my soul.
I feel your eyes traveling, and the autumn is far off:
Grey beret, voice of a bird, heart like a house
Towards which my deep longings migrated
And my kisses fell, happy as embers.
Sky from a ship. Field from the hills:
Your memory is made of light, of smoke, of a still pond!
Beyond your eyes, farther on, the evenings were blazing.
Dry autumn leaves revolved in your soul.

Pablo Neruda


If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.
You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.
If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.
If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.
But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Pablo Neruda


I Crave Your Mouth, Your Voice, Your Hair

DON'T GO FAR OFF, NOT EVEN FOR A DAY
Don't go far off, not even for a day, because --
because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.
Don't leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.
Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,
because in that moment you'll have gone so far
I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?

Pablo Neruda


I Explain A Few Things

You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs?
and the poppy-petalled metaphysics?
and the rain repeatedly spattering
its words and drilling them full
of apertures and birds?
I'll tell you all the news.
I lived in a suburb,
a suburb of Madrid, with bells,
and clocks, and trees.
From there you could look out
over Castille's dry face:
a leather ocean.
My house was called
the house of flowers, because in every cranny
geraniums burst: it was
a good-looking house
with its dogs and children.
Remember, Raul?
Eh, Rafel? Federico, do you remember
from under the ground
my balconies on which
the light of June drowned flowers in your mouth?
Brother, my brother!
Everything
loud with big voices, the salt of merchandises,
pile-ups of palpitating bread,
the stalls of my suburb of Arguelles with its statue
like a drained inkwell in a swirl of hake:
oil flowed into spoons,
a deep baying
of feet and hands swelled in the streets,
metres, litres, the sharp
measure of life,
stacked-up fish,
the texture of roofs with a cold sun in which
the weather vane falters,
the fine, frenzied ivory of potatoes,
wave on wave of tomatoes rolling down the sea.
And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings -
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children's blood.
Jackals that the jackals would despise,
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate!
Face to face with you I have seen the blood
of Spain tower like a tide
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives!
Treacherous
generals:
see my dead house,
look at broken Spain :
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers,
from every socket of Spain
Spain emerges
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes,
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull's eye of your hearts.
And you'll ask: why doesn't his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land?
Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
The blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
In the streets!

Pablo Neruda


I like you calm, as if you were absent

I like you calm, as if you were absent,
and you hear me far-off, and my voice does not touch you.
It seems that your eyelids have taken to flying:
it seems that a kiss has sealed up your mouth.
Since all these things are filled with my spirit,
you come from things, filled with my spirit.
You appear as my soul, as the butterfly’s dreaming,
and you appear as Sadness’s word.
I like you calm, as if you were distant,
you are a moaning, a butterfly’s cooing.
You hear me far-off, my voice does not reach you.
Let me be calmed, then, calmed by your silence.
Let me commune, then, commune with your silence,
clear as a light, and pure as a ring.
You are like night, calmed, constellated.
Your silence is star-like, as distant, as true.
I like you calm, as if you were absent:
distant and saddened, as if you were dead.
One word at that moment, a smile, is sufficient.
And I thrill, then, I thrill: that it cannot be so.
XV From:’ Veinte poemas de amor’
I like you calm, as if you were absent,
and you hear me far-off, and my voice does not touch you.
It seems that your eyelids have taken to flying:
it seems that a kiss has sealed up your mouth.
Since all these things are filled with my spirit,
you come from things, filled with my spirit.
You appear as my soul, as the butterfly’s dreaming,
and you appear as Sadness’s word.
I like you calm, as if you were distant,
you are a moaning, a butterfly’s cooing.
You hear me far-off, my voice does not reach you.
Let me be calmed, then, calmed by your silence.
Let me commune, then, commune with your silence,
clear as a light, and pure as a ring.
You are like night, calmed, constellated.
Your silence is star-like, as distant, as true.
I like you calm, as if you were absent:
distant and saddened, as if you were dead.
One word at that moment, a smile, is sufficient.
And I thrill, then, I thrill: that it cannot be so.

Pablo Neruda

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