Pablo Neruda



March days return with their covert light,

and huge fish swim through the sky,

vague earthly vapours progress in secret,

things slip to silence one by one.

Through fortuity, at this crisis of errant skies,

you reunite the lives of the sea to that of fire,

grey lurchings of the ship of winter

to the form that love carved in the guitar.

O love, O rose soaked by mermaids and spume,

dancing flame that climbs the invisible stairway,

to waken the blood in insomnia’s labyrinth,

so that the waves can complete themselves in the sky,

the sea forget its cargoes and rages,

and the world fall into darkness’s nets.




Perhaps not to be is to be without your being,

without your going, that cuts noon light

like a blue flower, without your passing

later through fog and stones,

without the torch you lift in your hand

that others may not see as golden,

that perhaps no one believed blossomed

the glowing origin of the rose,

without, in the end, your being, your coming

suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life,

blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze:

and it follows that I am, because you are:

it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we:

and, because of love, you will, I will,

We will, come to be.


In my sky at twilight you are like a cloud

and your form and colour are the way I love them.

You are mine, mine, woman with sweet lips

and in your life my infinite dreams live.


The lamp of my soul dyes your feet,

the sour wine is sweeter on your lips,

oh reaper of my evening song,

how solitary dreams believe you to be mine!


You are mine, mine, I go shouting it to the afternoon's

wind, and the wind hauls on my widowed voice.

Huntress of the depth of my eyes, your plunder

stills your nocturnal regard as though it were water.


You are taken in the net of my music, my love,

and my nets of music are wide as the sky.

My soul is born on the shore of your eyes of mourning.

In your eyes of mourning the land of dreams begin.




You've asked me what the lobster is weaving there with

his golden feet?

I reply, the ocean knows this.

You say, what is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent

bell? What is it waiting for?

I tell you it is waiting for time, like you.

You ask me whom the Macrocystis alga hugs in its arms?

Study, study it, at a certain hour, in a certain sea I know.

You question me about the wicked tusk of the narwhal,

and I reply by describing

how the sea unicorn with the harpoon in it dies.

You enquire about the kingfisher's feathers,

which tremble in the pure springs of the southern tides?

Or you've found in the cards a new question touching on

the crystal architecture

of the sea anemone, and you'll deal that to me now?

You want to understand the electric nature of the ocean


The armored stalactite that breaks as it walks?

The hook of the angler fish, the music stretched out

in the deep places like a thread in the water?


I want to tell you the ocean knows this, that life in its

jewel boxes

is endless as the sand, impossible to count, pure,

and among the blood-colored grapes time has made the


hard and shiny, made the jellyfish full of light

and untied its knot, letting its musical threads fall

from a horn of plenty made of infinite mother-of-pearl.


I am nothing but the empty net which has gone on ahead

of human eyes, dead in those darknesses,

of fingers accustomed to the triangle, longitudes

on the timid globe of an orange.


I walked around as you do, investigating

the endless star,

and in my net, during the night, I woke up naked,

the only thing caught, a fish trapped inside the wind.




Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu


Arise to birth with me, my brother.

Give me your hand out of the depths

sown by your sorrows.

You will not return from these stone fastnesses.

You will not emerge from subterranean time.

Your rasping voice will not come back,

nor your pierced eyes rise from their sockets.


Look at me from the depths of the earth,

tiller of fields, weaver, reticent shepherd,

groom of totemic guanacos,

mason high on your treacherous scaffolding,

iceman of Andean tears,

jeweler with crushed fingers,

farmer anxious among his seedlings,

potter wasted among his clays--

bring to the cup of this new life

your ancient buried sorrows.

Show me your blood and your furrow;

say to me: here I was scourged

because a gem was dull or because the earth

failed to give up in time its tithe of corn or stone.

Point out to me the rock on which you stumbled,

the wood they used to crucify your body.

Strike the old flints

to kindle ancient lamps, light up the whips

glued to your wounds throughout the centuries

and light the axes gleaming with your blood.


I come to speak for your dead mouths.


Throughout the earth

let dead lips congregate,

out of the depths spin this long night to me

as if I rode at anchor here with you.


And tell me everything, tell chain by chain,

and link by link, and step by step;

sharpen the knives you kept hidden away,

thrust them into my breast, into my hands,

like a torrent of sunbursts,

an Amazon of buried jaguars,

and leave me cry: hours, days and years,

blind ages, stellar centuries.


And give me silence, give me water, hope.


Give me the struggle, the iron, the volcanoes.


Let bodies cling like magnets to my body.


Come quickly to my veins and to my mouth.


Speak through my speech, and through my blood.

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