Monday, April 20, 2009

Los Versos del Capitan

In an extremely odd turn, I was drawn into discussions on poetry three times today.

Since I don't believe in coincidence, I'm yielding to the demands of the cosmos.

My shelves are filled with poetry. I love everything from Ogden Nash to Edna St. Vincent Millay. But my favorite poems are by the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. He was a diplomat and a leftist politician who supported the Communists. He also wrote passionate love poetry and won the Nobel Prize in 1971, two years before his death.

Here is one of my favorites called Night on the Island:
All night I have slept with you
next to the sea, on the island.
Wild and sweet you were between pleasure and sleep,
between fire and water.

Perhaps very late
our dreams joined
at the top or at the bottom,
up above like branches moved by a common wind,
down below like red roots that touch.

Perhaps your dream
drifted from mine
and through the dark sea
was seeking me
as before,
when you did not yet exist,
when without sighting you
I sailed by your side,
and your eyes sought
what now--bread, wine, love, and anger--
I heap upon you
because you are the cup
that was waiting for the gifts of my life.
I have slept with you
all night long while
the dark earth spins
with the living and the dead,
and on waking suddenly
in the midst of the shadow
my arm encircled your waist.
Neither night nor sleep
could separate us.

I have slept with you
and on waking, your mouth,
come from your dream,
gave me the taste of earth,
of sea water, of seaweed,
of the depths of your life,
and I received your kiss
moistened by the dawn
as if it came to me
from the sea that surrounds us.
That poem and this one--Absence--come from a book titled The Captain's Verses. My copy was translated by Donald D. Walsh and published in 1972:
I have scarcely left you
when you go in me, crystalline,
or trembling,
or uneasy, wounded by me
or overwhelmed with love, as when your eyes
close upon the gift of life
that without cease I give you.

My love,
we have found each other
thirsty and we have
drunk up all the water and the blood,
we found each other
and we bit each other
as fire bites,
leaving wounds in us.

But wait for me,
keep for me your sweetness,
I will give you too
a rose.


Kristi said...

I'm also a fan of Neruda. I've given "20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair" as an engagement gift more than once.

"You puedo escribir los versos mast tristes esta noche..."

Also, if you've not seen it, the movie Il Postino was sort of based on the end of Neruda's life. It was oddly set in Italy, though Neruda lived in Chile. The screen play was based on the novel "Ardiente Paciencia" ("Burning Patience"? I'm not a great translator...) by Antonio Skarmeta, which was actually set in Chile. I think there was a Spanish-Language version of the film before the more famous Il Postino came out. I remember reading the novel for a Latin American Lit class for my Spanish major (and we might have watched the Chilean version of the move too)...not sure if there's an English translation avialable, but likely.

Maya Reynolds said...

Kristi: Pienso que escogĂ­ los versos apasionados.

I did not see Il Postino although I was aware of it. Your suggestion makes me want to see it.

Thanks for commenting.