Saturday, September 24, 2011


Poem by Pable Neruda

                                                           Little by little, and also in great leaps,
life happened to me,
and how insignificant this business is.
These veins carried my blood,
which I scarcely ever saw,
I breathed the air of so many places
without keeping a sample of any.
In the end, everyone is aware of this:
nobody keeps any of what he has,
and life is only a borrowing of bones.
The best thing was learning not to have too much
either of sorrow or of joy,
to hope for the chance of a last drop,
to ask more from honey and from twilight.

Perhaps it was my punishment.
Perhaps I was condemned to be happy.
Let it be known that nobody 
crossed my path without sharing my being.
I plunged up to the neck 
into adversities that were not mine,
into all the sufferings of others.
It wasn’t a question of applause or profit.
Much less. It was not being able
to live or breathe in this shadow,
the shadow of others like towers,
like bitter trees that bury you,
like cobblestones on the knees.

Our own wounds heal with weeping,
our own wounds heal with singing,
but in our own doorway lie bleeding
widows, Indians, poor men, fishermen.
The miner’s child doesn’t know his father
amidst all that suffering.

So be it, 
but my business was
the fullness of the spirit:
a cry of pleasure choking you,
a sigh from an uprooted plant,
the sum of all action.

It pleased me to grow with the morning,
to bathe in the sun,
in the great joy of sun,
salt, sea-light and wave,
and in that unwinding of the foam 
my heart began to move,
growing in that essential spasm,
and dying away as it seeped into the sand.

trans. Alastair Reid

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