October 01, 2009

Viva Neruda!

Gracias Roberto Bolaño, for so ranting about Pablo Neruda that you have spurred me to read him again. 
Yes, because I still have the first book of Neruda's poetry I bought, Residence on Earth. I must have been very young, judging from the prettiness of my signature on the flyleaf and the $3.75 (American) price. It contains the beautiful Ode to Federico Garcia Lorca, the one that says "Así es la vida, Federico", "That's the way life is, Federico". I've just gone and looked it up. It says "What are verses for if not for that night / in which a bitter dagger finds us out". Lorca was killed by Franco's nationalists the next year.

Some years later I bought the other book I have of Neruda ("$5" is pencilled on the flyleaf of this one), a second-hand copy of Cien sonetos de Amor, the 100 love sonnets which he wrote for his beloved wife Matilde Urrutia. This is the book I got down from the shelf today when I needed a break from the frustrating prose of The Savage Detectives.

Pablo Neruda was in his fifties when he wrote these poems. For years I have remembered a line in a book without being able to remember the name of the book (perhaps someone out there can?) The line is : "He understood that lyric poetry was virtually impossible for the old, for how can an old man say he will die of unrequited love when he knew he didn't?"

Here's how:

No estés lejos de mí un solo día, porque cómo,
porque, no sé decirlo, es largo el día,
y te estaré esperando como en las estaciones
cuando en alguna parte se durmieron los trenes.
No te vayas por una hora porque entonces
en esa hora se juntan las gotas del desvelo
y tal vez todo el humo que anda buscando casa
venga a matar aún mi corazón perdido.
Ay que no se quebrante tu silueta en la arena,
ay que no vuelen tus párpados en la ausencia:
no te vayas por un minuto, bienamada,
porque en ese minuto te habrás ido tan lejos
que yo cruzaré toda la tierra preguntando
si volverás o si me dejarás muriendo.

Don't go away from me even for a day, because just as,
because, I don’t know how to say it, the day is long
and I'll be waiting for you as in stations
when the trains are all off some place, sleeping.
Don't go even for an hour, for then
in that hour the drops of sleeplessness will run together
and all the smoke that's out there looking for a home
might come and kill even my lost heart.
Oh, may your silhouette never break up on the sand,
oh, may your eyelids never flutter into absence:
Don’t leave me even for a minute, my beloved,
because in that minute you’ll have gone so far
that I'll wander across the whole world asking
If you are coming back or leaving me to die.

"I have made a pact with beauty" Neruda said before he died.

If you like this poem, translated by Ana la Española and myself, as literally as possible while still keeping it readable (Read the poem out loud in Spanish to get the full experience! Go on!) get The poetry of Pablo Neruda, the most comprehensive collection of Neruda's poems in English. It contains 600 poems translated by top translators, with the major works given also in the original Spanish.

Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 04:30


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