Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)
TONIGHT I CAN WRITE 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 she makes me suffer and these the last verses that I write for her. (translated by W. S. Merwin)
POETRY And it was at that age...Poetry arrived in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where it came from, from winter or a river. I don't know how or when, no, they were not voices, they were not words, nor silence, but from a street I was summoned, from the branches of night, abruptly from the others, among violent fires or returning alone, there I was without a face and it touched me. I did not know what to say, my mouth had no way with names my eyes were blind, and something started in my soul, fever or forgotten wings, and I made my own way, deciphering that fire and I wrote the first faint line, faint, without substance, pure nonsense, pure wisdom of someone who knows nothing, and suddenly I saw the heavens unfastened and open, planets, palpitating plantations, shadow perforated, riddled with arrows, fire and flowers, the winding night, the universe. And I, infinitesimal being, drunk with the great starry void, likeness, image of mystery, I felt myself a pure part of the abyss, I wheeled with the stars, my heart broke loose on the wind.
Revised: March 9, 1997