Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Chilean Poet-Style


Ask me where I have been
and I'll tell you: "Things keep
on happening."
I must talk of the rubble that
darkens the stones;
of the river's duration,
destroying itself;
I only know the things that the
birds have abandoned,
or the ocean behind me, or my
sorrowing sister.
Why the distinctions of place?
Why should day
follow day? Why must the
blackness
of nighttime collect in our
mouths? Why the dead?

If you question me: where have
you come from, I must talk
with things falling away,
artifacts tart to the taste,
great, cankering beasts, as often
as not,
and my own inconsolable
heart.

Those who cross over with us
are no keepsakes,
nor the yellowing pigeon who
sleeps in forgetfulness:
only the face with its tears,
the hands at our throats,
whatever the leafage dissevers:
the dark of an obsolete day,
a day that has tasted the grief
in our blood.

Here are violets, swallows--
all things that delight us, the
delicate tallies
that show in the lengthening
train
through which pleasure and
transciency pass.

Here let us halt, in the teeth of
a barrier:
useless to gnaw on the husks
that the silence assembles.
For I come without answers:
see: the dying are legion,
legion, the breakwaters
breached by the red of the sun,
the headpieces knocking the
ship's side,
the hands closing over their
kisses,
and legion the things I would
give to oblivion.

"There's No Forgetting (Sonata)," Pablo Neruda
translated by Ben Belitt

11 comments:

bee said...

i love neruda. i lovelovelovelove him. i was reading a collection of his in the bookstore the other day and i swear his are some of the only poems i've read that lift off the page and tantalize all my five senses.

twitches said...

Thanks for the Neruda. He is always a joy to read, one of the best.

Pris said...

ohhhhh Neruda...lovely!

January said...

Such a necessary poem in times like these. A great choice for today.

wendylou who? said...

Cankering beasts, hand at our throats,

so many times I've come without answers...sorrow..that can't be explained away.

I hadn't read this before. Thank you.

GreenishLady said...

Marvellous. I don't always know what he means, but it never matters. This is beautiful.

pepektheassassin said...

I love the image of the "legions of the dying" sailing away from us, "the breakwaters breached by the red of the sun" and their "hands closing over their kisses" (blowing us kisses?) as they depart "in the teeth of a barrier" that I suppose is death...and how it is "useless" for those assembled, watching in silence while they vanish "to gnaw on the husks" that remain.

There have been many days recently that have "tasted the grief in our blood." Amd for me, with this new baby, "things that delight" me, "the delicate tallies that show in the lengthening train through which pleasure and transciency pass."

He's a fine poet, don'tcha think?

Tammy said...

Perfect choice for this week! Lovely

Deb R said...

This is the first time I'd seen this particular Neruda poem, but I just knew as I was reading that it had to be him. Love it! Perfect choice.

chiefbiscuit said...

That's great. I LOVE your grandson's picture - Congratulations. I wish you and him many happy times.

BessieSnickers said...

Congrats on your new grandbaby!

And, I concur, thanks for the Neruda. I once thought I would teach myself Spanish from a book of his poetry that had the English translations facing the original poems. I may have to take that up again, because I think the confusion of images and languages could be useful in these difficult-to-confront times.

And thanks for your comments on my page!