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Pablo Neruda turns 100

 
 
fbaezer
 
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 11:04 am
Today is Pablo Neruda's 100th birthday.

He was one of the greatest poets of the Spanish language in the XX Century, and is receiving world wide homage.

Have you read any of his works?

I shall reproduce some of them, both in the original and the English translation.
 
fbaezer
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 11:08 am
Ode To an Artichoke

The artichoke
of delicate heart
erect
in its battle-dress, builds
its minimal cupola;
keeps
stark
in its scallop of
scales.
Around it,
demoniac vegetables
bristle their thicknesses,
devise
tendrils and belfries,
the bulb's agitations;
while under the subsoil
the carrot
sleeps sound in its
rusty mustaches.
Runner and filaments
bleach in the vineyards,
whereon rise the vines.
The sedulous cabbage
arranges its petticoats;
oregano
sweetens a world;
and the artichoke
dulcetly there in a gardenplot,
armed for a skirmish,
goes proud
in its pomegranate
burnishes.
Till, on a day,
each by the other,
the artichoke moves
to its dream
of a market place
in the big willow
hoppers:
a battle formation.
Most warlike
of defilades-
with men
in the market stalls,
white shirts
in the soup-greens,
artichoke field marshals,
close-order conclaves,
commands, detonations,
and voices,
a crashing of crate staves.

And
Maria
come
down
with her hamper
to
make trial
of an artichoke:
she reflects, she examines,
she candles them up to the light like an egg,
never flinching;
she bargains,
she tumbles her prize
in a market bag
among shoes and a
cabbage head,
a bottle
of vinegar; is back
in her kitchen.
The artichoke drowns in a pot.

So you have it:
a vegetable, armed,
a profession
(call it an artichoke)
whose end
is millennial.
We taste of that
sweetness,
dismembering scale after scale.
We eat of a halcyon paste:
it is green at the artichoke heart.



Oda a la alcachofa

La alcachofa
de tierno corazón
se vistió de guerrero,
erecta, construyó
una pequeña cúpula,
se mantuvo
impermeable
bajo
sus escamas,
a su lado
los vegetales locos
se encresparon,
se hicieron
zarcillos, espadañas,
bulbos conmovedores,
en el subsuelo
durmió la zanahoria
de bigotes rojos,
la viña
resecó los sarmientos
por donde sube el vino,
la col
se dedicó
a probarse faldas,
el orégano
a perfumar el mundo,
y la dulce
alcachofa
allí en el huerto,
vestida de guerrero,
bruñida
como una granada,
orgullosa,
y un día
una con otra
en grandes cestos
de mimbre, caminó
por el mercado
a realizar su sueño:
la milicia.


En hileras
nunca fue tan marcial
como en la feria,
los hombres
entre las legumbres
con sus camisas blancas
eran
mariscales
de las alcachofas,
las filas apretadas,
las voces de comando,
y la detonación
de una caja que cae,
pero
entonces
viene
María
con su cesto,
escoge
una alcachofa,
no le teme,
la examina, la observa
contra la luz como si fuera un huevo,
la compra,
la confunde
en su bolsa
con un par de zapatos,
con un repollo y una
botella
de vinagre
hasta
que entrando a la cocina
la sumerge en la olla.


Así termina
en paz
esta carrera
del vegetal armado
que se llama alcachofa,
luego
escama por escama
desvestimos
la delicia
y comemos
la pacífica pasta
de su corazón verde.
fbaezer
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 11:20 am
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.


Alturas de Macchu Picchu

XII

Sube a nacer conmigo, hermano.
Dame la mano desde la profunda
zona de tu dolor diseminado.
No volverás del fondo de las rocas.
No volverás del tiempo subterráneo.
No volverá tu voz endurecida.
No volverán tus ojos taladrados.
Mírame desde el fondo de la tierra,
labrador, tejedor, pastor callado:
domador de guanacos tutelares:
albañil del andamio desafiado:
aguador de las lágrimas andinas:
joyero de los dedos machacados:
agricultor temblando en la semilla:
alfarero en tu greda derramado:
traed a la copa de esta nueva vida
vuestros viejos dolores enterrados.
Mostradme vuestra sangre y vuestro surco,
decidme: aquí fui castigado,
porque la joya no brilló o la tierra
no entregó a tiempo la piedra o el grano:
señaladme la piedra en que caísteis
y la madera en que os crucificaron,
encendedme los viejos pedernales,
las viejas lámparas, los látigos pegados
a través de los siglos en las llagas
y las hachas de brillo ensangrentado.
Yo vengo a hablar por vuestra boca muerta.

A través de la tierra juntad todos
los silenciosos labios derramados
y desde el fondo habladme toda esta larga noche
como si yo estuviera con vosotros anclado,
contadme todo, cadena a cadena,
eslabón a eslabón, y paso a paso,
afilad los cuchillos que guardasteis,
ponedlos en mi pecho y en mi mano,
como un río de rayos amarillos,
como un río de tigres enterrados,
y dejadme llorar, horas, días, años,
edades ciegas, siglos estelares.

Dadme el silencio, el agua, la esperanza.

Dadme la lucha, el hierro, los volcanes.

Apegadme los cuerpos como imanes.

Acudid a mis venas y a mi boca.

Hablad por mis palabras y mi sangre
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 11:28 am
Your Feet

When I cannot look at your face
I look at your feet.
Your feet of arched bone,
your hard little feet.
I know that they support you,
and that your sweet weight
rises upon them.
Your waist and your breasts,
the doubled purple
of your nipples,
the sockets of your eyes
that have just flown away,
your wide fruit mouth,
your red tresses,
my little tower.
But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.

Tus Pies

Cuando no puedo mirar tu cara
miro tus pies.
Tus pies de hueso arqueado,
tus pequeños pies duros.
Yo sé que te sostienen,
y que tu dulce peso
sobre ellos se levanta.
Tu cintura y tus pechos,
la duplicada púrpura
de tus pezones,
la caja de tus ojos
que recién han volado,
tu ancha boca de fruta,
tu cabellera roja,
pequeña torre mi'a.
Pero no amo tus pies
sino porque anduvieron
sobre la tierra y sobre
el viento y sobre el agua,
hasta que me encontraron.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 11:29 am
My father is (or was) a big admirer of Pablo Neruda - tho from what I gathered about him thru my father's occasional mention would never have made me suspect he wrote poems like "Artichoke" too! Great ;-)
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 11:45 am
From The Book of Questions

VIII

What irritates vulcanoes who spit fire, cold and fury?
Why couldn't Christopher Columbus discover Spain?
How many questions does a cat have?
Do uncried tears wait in small lakes?
Or are they invisible rivers who run to sadness?

XLIV

Where is the child that I was, is he inside of me, or is he gone?
Does he know that I never loved him, and that he didn't love me either?
Why did we grow together for so long, just to brake up?
Why didn't we both die when my childhood died?
And if my soul fell off me, why does the skeleton follow it?


LXII

If all rivers are sweet, where does the sea get it's salt?


De El Libro de las Preguntas

VIII
Qué cosa irrita a los volcanes que escupen fuego, frío y furia?
Por qué Cristóbal Colón no pudo descubrir España?
Cuantas preguntas tiene un gato?
Las lágrimas que no se lloran esperan en pequeños lagos?
O serán ríos invisibles que corren hacia la tristeza?

XLIV
Dónde esta el niño que yo fui, sigue adentro de mí o se fue?
Sabe que no lo quise nunca y que tampoco me quería?
Por qué anduvimos tanto tiempo creciendo para separarnos?
Por qué no morimos los dos cuando mi infancia se murió?
Y si el alma se me cayó por qué me sigue el esqueleto?

LXXII
Si todos los ríos son dulces de dónde saca sal el mar?
0 Replies
 
Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 11:50 am
Thanks for posting the poems fbeazer. Isabel Allende was on NPR several days ago talking about her memories of him. He was a close family friend.
0 Replies
 
drom et reve
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 11:57 am
Thank you for this thread and the translations, Fbaezer. It is always a delight to read him. My second non-literal translation from Spanish was a Neruda one; (the first was Lorca;) and although it was the most famous one-- it instantly made me want to read more. Here's that translation that I've been looking for, and the Spanish original:

I can write the saddest verse, tonight.

I can write, for instance, the night is blurred with stars,
Stars that are blue and shiver in the distance.
The night wind turns circles in the sky, and sings.
I can write the saddest verse, tonight.
I loved her, at times she loves me too.

Through nights like this one, she lived in my arms,
I kissed her endlessly under the sky.
She loved me, and at times I loved her too.
How could I not fall for her immense eyes?

I can write the saddest verse, tonight:
To think I don't have her. To feel I have lost her.
And my verse falls to the soul like dew on a pasture.

What does it matter if my love could not keep her?
The sky is starry. She is not with me.
That's all. In the distance, someone is singing. In the distance.
It does not satisfy my soul to've lost her.
My sight tries to find her, as if that would bring her closer--
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitens the same trees.
It is just us, who are no longer the same.

I love her no more, for sure; but how I loved her.
My voice once tried to find the wind, to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses fell.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, certainly, maybe not certainly;
Love is so short: forgetting takes so long.

Because, through nights like this one, she lived in my arms,
My soul's not satisfied it's lost her,
Though this is the last pain she makes me suffer;
Though these are the last verses I write for her.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.

Escribir, por ejemplo: «La noche está estrellada,
y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos.»

El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.



Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.

En las noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos.
La besé tantas veces bajo el cielo infinito.

Ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería.
Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos.



Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido.

Oír la noche inmensa, más inmensa sin ella.
Y el verso cae al alma como al pasto el rocío.

Qué importa que mi amor no pudiera guardarla.
La noche está estrellada y ella no está conmigo.

Eso es todo. A lo lejos alguien canta. A lo lejos.
Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Como para acercarla mi mirada la busca.
Mi corazón la busca, y ella no está conmigo.



La misma noche que hace blanquear los mismos árboles.
Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero cuánto la quise.
Mi voz buscaba el viento para tocar su oído.

De otro. Será de otro. Como antes de mis besos.
Su voz, su cuerpo claro. Sus ojos infinitos.



Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero.
Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido.

Porque en noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos,
Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Aunque éste sea el último dolor que ella me causa,
y éstos sean los últimos versos que yo le escribo.



0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 12:29 pm
Thank YOU, all, for reading.

Drom, Neruda's "XX Poems of Love", published before his 20th birthday, are the poems every sensitive teenager would like to have written.
0 Replies
 
drom et reve
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 12:36 pm
It's amazing to think how big an impact such youthful work made; the only other person whose poetry written before the age of twenty-five escapes the title, 'juvenilia,' is Dylan Thomas. My Catalan cousin in Barcelona says that, if someone starts saying 'puedo escribir los versos...,' people all join in, bringing out the whole music of it.

Would you classify the poems that you've translated as some of your favourites?

0 Replies
 
Gargamel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 12:58 pm
My favorite line, I forget which of the 20 love poems it is:

"I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees."

holy sh*t!

genius renders age irrelevant
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 01:38 pm
I tried to give a selection of Neruda's different angles.

"Ode to the Artichoke" is one of my favorites.
Poem XX is everyone's favorite.

Lately my favorite book of his is "Los Versos del Capitán", which he published anonimously in Italy. He was married and did not want his wife to know he wrote those poems to another lover. But the style is so obvious. The muse of "Los Versos del Capitán" is Matilde Urrutia, Neruda's second wife. This is one of the captain's verses.

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!
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 01:42 pm
And then what happened? Did they stay married?
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 03:59 pm
Love his work! Thank you Fbaezer.
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 04:19 pm
Osso,
I made a mistake. Matilde Urrutia was not Neruda's second wife, but his third.
The muse of "XX Poemas" was his best friend's sister, somewhat older than him, with whom he had a brief affaire. She was a married woman.
Six years later he married Maria Antonieta Hagenaar.
His second wife was Delia del Carril, a painter. She was 50, he was 30.
He was married with Del Carril when he had the famous affaire with folk singer Matilde Urrutia.
Matilde is the muse for "Versos del Capitán", written in 1952 and "100 Sonnets of Love", written in 1959.
He finally married Urrutia in 1966. She was his widow and died in 1985.
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 05:02 pm
Ode to My Socks
Maru Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted with her own
sheepherder hands,
two socks as soft
as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted
with threads of twilight
and the pelt of sheep.
Outrageous socks,
my feet became
two fish
made of wool,
two long sharks
of ultramarine blue
crossed
by one golden hair,
two gigantic blackbirds,
two cannons:
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so beautiful
that for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit
firemen, firemen
unworthy
of that embroidered fire,
of those luminous socks.
Nevertheless,
I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them
as schoolboys keep fireflies,
as scholars collect sacred documents,
I resisted the wild impulse
to put them
in a golden cage
and each day give them birdseed
and chunks of pink melon.

Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the rare
green deer
to the roasting spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stretched out
my feet
and pulled on
the magnificent socks
and then my shoes.
And the moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
beauty
and what is good is doubly
good
when it's a matter of two
woolen socks
in winter.


Oda a los Calcetines

Me trajo Mara Mori
un par de calcetines
que tejió con sus manos de pastora,
dos calcetines suaves como liebres.
En ellos metí los pies
como en dos estuches
tejidos con hebras del
crepúsculo y pellejos de ovejas.


Violentos calcetines,
mis pies fueron dos pescados de lana,
dos largos tiburones
de azul ultramarino
atravesados por una trenza de oro,
dos gigantescos mirlos,
dos cañones:
mis pies fueron honrados de este modo
por estos celestiales calcetines.


Eran tan hermosos que por primera vez
mis pies parecieron inaceptables,
como dos decrépitos bomberos,
bomberos indignos de aquel fuego bordado,
de aquellos luminosos calcetines.


Sin embargo, resistí la tentación
aguda de guardarlos como los colegiales preservan sus luciérnagas,
como los eruditos coleccionan
documentos sagrados,
resistí el impulso furioso de ponerlos
en una jaula de oro y darles cada
dia alpiste y pulpa de melón rosado.


Como descubridores que en la selva
entregan el rarísimo venado verde
al asador y se lo comen con remordimiento,
estiré los pies y me enfundé
los bellos calcetines y luego los zapatos.


Y es esta la moral de mi Oda:
Dos veces es belleza la belleza,
y lo que es bueno es doblemente bueno,
cuando se trata de dos calcetines
de lana en el invierno.
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 05:13 pm
From Too Many Names

When I sleep at night
what's my name, what's not my name?
And when I wake up, who am I
if I was not the one asleep?

This means we have barely
disembarked into life,
we've only just now been born,
let's not fill our mouths
with so many uncertain names,
with so many sad labels,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much yours and mine,
with so much signing of papers.

I intend to confuse things,
to unite them, make them new-born,
intermingle them, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the unity of the ocean,
a generous wholeness,
a fragrance alive and crackling.


De Demasiados Nombres

Cuando duermo todas las noches,
como me llamo o no me llamo?
Y cuando me despierto quien soy
si no era yo cuando dormia?


Esto quiere decir que apenas
desembarcamos en la vida,
que venimos recien naciendo,
que no nos llenemos la boca
con tantos nombres inseguros,
con tantas etiquetas tristes,
con tantas letras rimbombantes,
con tanto tuyo y tanto mio,
con tanta firma en los papeles.


Yo pienso confundir las cosas,
unirlas y recien nacerlas
entreverarlas, desvestirlas,
hasta que la luz del mundo
tenga la unidad del oceano,
una integridad generosa,
una fragancia crepitante.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 05:34 pm
Omigod, I love the socks poem, had to skip ahead to tell you.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 07:29 pm
So, I just ordered what appears to be a good translation of many of his poems in English -
The Essential Neruda
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2004 07:40 pm
Good for you, Osso.
0 Replies
 
 

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