One of the greatest

A friend of mine reminded me today of how much I love this poet.

I have read many poets, in various languages and many of them inspire me with their brilliant choice of words, the beautiful sounds they make and the magical paint brush that turns the black letters into endless fields of wheat or flowers that let the wind carry their scent of sweet ripeness. I love reading poems.

And yet, there are very few that really make me feel. That reach deep down into my heart and make it ache with love and longing, beauty and despair, blurring the boundaries as the emotions become too real, too intense.

Language matters. I am very fortunate to not only have learnt but also lived four languages. Again, I find beauty, genius, memories in all of them but only one of them manages to touch me where words alone can’t reach. I could wonder whether I’d feel the way I do about Pablo Neruda’s work if it wasn’t written in Spanish. Or if I hadn’t lived Spanish. I could wonder whether I could feel more, if I had lived in the same places he grew up in, lived and loved in. But why waste time on silly thoughts like that, if I can let his poems touch me?

As my friend started to read me an English translation of one of Neruda’s poems, I interrupted him before I even understood why. Knowing that he had the Spanish version as well, I ordered him to read the original version. My friend is progressing in Spanish and despite the occasional bump in emphasis, Neruda manages to ignite no matter who reads his words out loud. It is as if, as if there is so much beauty and power in his lines it overwhelms any shadow a challenged reader could cast.

I remember reading my mother a translation of one of my favourite Neruda Poems once. She didn’t like it. Neither did I as the culture difference tore a nasty gorge. Maybe I’m not meant to understand Pushkin in this life time but I am sure pleased that I got the chance to feel Neruda. Truthfully (and of course personally) I don’t think it can get any better than feeling Neruda.

Poema XV

Me gustas cuando callas porque estás como ausente,
y me oyes desde lejos, y mi voz no te toca.
Parece que los ojos se te hubieran volado
y parece que un beso te cerrara la boca.
Como todas las cosas están llenas de mi alma
emerges de las cosas, llena del alma mía.
Mariposa de sueño, te pareces a mi alma,
y te pareces a la palabra melancolía.
Me gustas cuando callas y estás como distante.
Y estás como quejándote, mariposa en arrullo.
Y me oyes desde lejos, y mi voz no te alcanza:
Déjame que me calle con el silencio tuyo.
Déjame que te hable también con tu silencio
claro como una lámpara, simple como un anillo.
Eres como la noche, callada y constelada.
Tu silencio es de estrella, tan lejano y sencillo.
Me gustas cuando callas porque estás como ausente.
Distante y dolorosa como si hubieras muerto.
Una palabra entonces, una sonrisa bastan.
Y estoy alegre, alegre de que no sea cierto.


~ by spasmicallyperfect on January 25, 2008.

2 Responses to “One of the greatest”

  1. I do wish I could speak and live spanish. I’d love to read this poem and to feel it as you do. You’ve certainly described some of the emotions and passions that have been ignited in my own soul here and there throughout my lifetime.

    Thank you for your beautiful words, thought, descriptive ways of thinking and relating it in mere words.

    Thank you for being you in the way that you present yourself here in this way. The words online are indeed limited I think and I’d love to hear you read this, knowing what it meant.

    Peace and serenity today.

    Was thinking of putting up the translation as I know that many of my readers do not know Spanish. However that would have seemed a little odd considering the content of my post. I figured whoever was truly interested would go and google it.
    “Thank you for being you in the way that you present yourself here”…….. Thank you for commenting.
    PS. I’d rather not be reading this out loud, Spanish isn’t my first language and unfortunately I have never been able to shake my original accident. Not that Mr. Neruda would mind I don’t think, it’s more me being self concious 🙂 . But who knows, maybe for you I’d park that silly constraint. 🙂

  2. Well, I must confess I don’t speak a word of spanish, but if you like him his poetry must have something going for it. Of course, being a fellow pipes smoker………………….;)


    If you haven’t had any exposure yet, you might want to look up some of his poems. Let me know what you think.

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