Chilean Poet and Diplomat, Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature
Pablo Neruda, pen name for Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto
Chilean Poet and Diplomat, Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature
Keeping Quite - Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still. For once on the face of the earth, let's not speak in any language; let's stop for one second, and not move our arms so much. It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines; we would all be together in a sudden strangeness. Fisherman in the cold sea would not harm whales and the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands. Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire, victories with no survivors, would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers in the shade, doing nothing. What I want should not be confused with total inactivity. Life is what it is about; I want no truck with death. If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death. Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive. Now I'll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go.
To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses ? that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things. That exchange brought home to me for the first time a precious idea: that all of humanity is somehow together... It won?t surprise you then that I attempted to give something resiny, earthlike, and fragrant in exchange for human brotherhood. Just as I once left the pinecone by the fence, I have since left my words on the door of so many people who were unknown to me, people in prison, or hunted, or alone. This exchange of gifts ? mysterious ? settled deep inside me like a sedimentary deposit.
One time, investigating in the backyard of our house in Temuco the tiny objects and minuscule beings of my world, I came upon a hole in one of the boards of the fence. I looked through the hole and saw a landscape like that behind our house, uncared for, and wild. I moved back a few steps, because I sensed vaguely that something was about to happen. All of a sudden a hand appeared ? a tiny hand of a boy about my own age. By the time I came close again, the hand was gone, and in its place there was a marvelous white sheep. The sheep?s wool was faded. Its wheels had escaped. All of this only made it more authentic. I had never seen such a wonderful sheep. I looked back through the hole, but the boy had disappeared. I went into the house and brought out a treasure of my own: a pinecone, opened, full of odor and resin, which I adored. I set it down in the same spot and went off with the sheep.
Tomorrow we will only give them a leaf of the tree of our love, a leaf which will fall on the earth like if it had been made by our lips like a kiss which falls from our invincible heights to show the fire and the tenderness of a true love.
What does persist on death row?
Why do I keep the skeleton? And who came to live for me when I was sleeping or sick?
You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.
There is something sad in the world that a stationary train in the rain?
Tonight I can write the saddest lines. Write for example, "The night is shattered and the blue stars shiver in the distance." The night wind revolves in the sky and sings. Tonight I can write the saddest lines. I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too. Through nights like this one, I held her in my arms. I kissed her again and again under the endless sky. She loved me, sometimes I loved her too. How could one not have loved her great still eyes. Tonight I can write the saddest lines. To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her. To hear the immense night, still more immense without her. And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture. What does it matter that my love could not keep her. The night is shattered and she is not with me. This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance. My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her. My sight searches for her as though to go to her. My heart looks for her, and she is not with me. The same night whitening the same trees. We, of that time, are no longer the same. I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her. My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing. Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes. I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her. Love is so short, forgetting is so long. Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her. Thought this be the last pain that she makes me suffer and these the last verses that I write for her.
What's wrong with you, with us, what's happening to us? Ah our love is a harsh cord that binds us wounding us and if we want to leave our wound, to separate, it makes a new knot for us and condemns us to drain our blood and burn together. What's wrong with you? I look at you and I find nothing in you but two eyes like all eyes, a mouth lost among a thousand mouths that I have kissed, more beautiful, a body just like those that have slipped beneath my body without leaving any memory. And how empty you went through the world like a wheat-colored jar without air, without sound, without substance! I vainly sought in you depth for my arms that dig, without cease, beneath the earth: beneath your skin, beneath your eyes, nothing, beneath your double breast scarcely raised a current of crystalline order that does not know why it flows singing. Why, why, why, my love, why?
Why do the leaves commit suicide when they feel yellow?
You keep only darkness, my distant female, from your regard sometimes the coast of dread emerges.
There was something awaiting us in the midst of this wild primeval forest. Suddenly, as if in a strange vision, we came to a beautiful little meadow huddled among the rocks: clear water, green grass, wild flowers, the purling of brooks and the blue heaven above, a generous stream of light unimpeded by leaves.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines...Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer and these the last verses that I write for her.
What's wrong with you? I look at you and I find nothing in you but two eyes like all eyes, a mouth lost among a thousand mouths that I have kissed, more beautiful, a body just like those that have slipped beneath my body without leaving any memory.
Why wasn't Christopher Columbus able to discover Spain?
You know how this is: if I look at the crystal moon, at the red branch of the slow autumn at my window, if I touch near the fire the impalpable ash or the wrinkled body of the log, everything carries me to you, as if everything that exists, aromas, light, metals, were little boats that sail toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
There was the black solitude of the islands, and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.
Under your ski the moon is alive.
When everything seems to be set to show me off as intelligent, the fool I always keeps hidden takes over all that I say.
Will our life not be a tunnel between two vague clarities? Or will it not be a clarity between two dark triangles?
You know that nobody streets and into the houses either? There are only eyes in the windows. If you do not have to sleep touching a door will open, you open up to a point and you'll see that it's cold inside, that the house is empty, and wants nothing to you, are worthless your stories, and if you insist with your tenderness you bite the dog and cat.
There we stopped as if within a magic circle, as if guests within some hallowed place, and the ceremony I now took part in had still more the air of something sacred. The cowherds dismounted from their horses. In the midst of the space, set up as if in a rite, was the skull of an ox. In silence the men approached it one after the other and put coins and food in the eye-sockets of the skull. I joined them in this sacrifice intended for stray travelers, all kinds of refugees who would find bread and succor in the dead ox's eye sockets.
Uprooting for the human being is a frustration that, in one way or another, atrophy clarity of his soul.
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.