Monday’s Verse 3-4-08

OK, honest question, show of hands. No lying. We all love Pablo Neruda‘s love poems, but how many people knew he was a dedicated civil servant for the Chilean government? Really? Oh Scott, put your hand down, you GD socialist. Well I’m here to tell you that he served as the Chilean consul in Java, in Burma, and in Barcelona prior to and during WWII. From 1970-73, he was Allende’s ambassador to Paris.

None of which, exactly, confronts my understanding of the poem below, but I’m no expert. *Sigh*, if only we had some comparative lit experts, fluent in Spanish, who possess some understanding of 20th-century history and South American politics and lyric poetry! Then I could retire. In any case, I don’t have a copy of the original, but what do you make of the translation job? How about the ending? Have a good week. Don’t forget to laugh. -ed.


Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,

but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s