from Ode To Salt by Pablo Neruda

Dust of the sea, barely open
routes of the sea foam.
Dust of the sea, the tongue
receives a kiss
of the night sea from you:
taste recognizes
the ocean in each salted morsel,
and therefore the smallest,
the tiniest
wave of the shaker
brings home to us
not only your domestic whiteness
but the inward flavor of the infinite.

translated by Robert Bly

from If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

translated by Donald D. Walsh

from The Earth by Pablo Neruda

And when sleep comes
to stretch out and take me
to my own silence
there is a great white wind
that destroys my sleep
and from it fall leaves,
they fall like knives
upon me, draining me of blood.

And each wound has
the shape of your mouth.

translated by Donald D. Walsh

Absence by Pablo Neruda

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 all the water and the blood,
we have 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.

translated by Donald D. Walsh

from A Dream of Trains by Pablo Neruda

I was in the seat and the train
was running through my body,
breaking down my frontiers–
suddenly, it was the train of my childhood,
smoke of the early morning,
bittersweet of summer.

There were other trains which were fleeing,
their cars well-filled with sorrows,
like a cargo of asphalt;
so did the  stationary train run on
in the morning which was growing
heavy about my bones.

I was alone in the solitary train,
but not only was I alone–
a host of solitudes were gathered
around the hope of the journey,
like peasants on the platforms.
And I, in the train, like stale smoke,
with so many shiftless souls,
burdened by so many deaths,
felt myself lost on a journey
in which nothing was moving
but my exhausted heart.

translated  by Alastair Reid

from Bestiary by Pablo Neruda

Frogs, soft, raucous, sonorous–
I always wanted to be a frog,
I always loved the pools and the leaves
slender as filaments,
the green world of watercress
with the frogs lords of the sky.

The serenade of frogs
starts in my dream and illumines it,
starts up like a climbing plant
to the balconies of my childhood,
to my cousin’s growing nipples,
to the astronomic jasmine
of black Southern nights,
and now that time has passed,
let them not ask after the sky;
it seems I still haven’t learned
the harsh speech of frogs.

If all this is so, how am I a poet?
What do I know of the complex
geography of the night?

translated by Alastair Reid

from Memories and Weeks by Pablo Neruda


The weeks creep past,
form clouds, lose themselves,
conceal themselves in the sky,
come to rest there
like light faded.

Time is long, Padro,
time is short, Rosa;
and the weeks, exact
in their roles, exhausted,
pile up like berries,
stop palpitating.

Till one day, the wind,
rumorous, unaware,
opens them, stretches them,
beats them, and now
they mount like tattered
flags which return
to the lost homeland.

That is how memories are.

translated by Alastair Reid

Consequences by Pablo Neruda

He was good, the man, sure
as his hoe and his plough.
He didn’t even have time
to dream while he slept.

He was poor to the point of sweat.
He was worth a single horse.

His son today is very proud
and is worth a number of cars.

He speaks with a senator’s voice,
he walks with an ample step,
has forgotten his peasant father
and discovered ancestors.
He thinks like a fat newspaper,
makes money night and day,
is important even asleep.

The sons of the son are many,
they married some time ago.
They do nothing, but they consume.
They’re worth thousands of mice.

The sons of the sons of the son—
what will they make of the world?
Will they turn out good or bad?
Worth flies or worth wheat?

You don’t want to answer me.

But the questions do not die.

translated by Alastair Reid

from Those Days by Pablo Neruda

I don’t know why I’m telling these things,
these places, these moments,
the smoke from those bonfires.
Nobody really needs to
tremble at alien earthquakes
and truly nobody cares about
anyone else’s youth.
So I’m not asking for pardon.
I’m in my usual place.
I have a tree with so many leaves
that although I don’t claim immortality,
I can laugh at you and the autumn.

translated  by Alastair Reid

from Itineraries by Pablo Neruda

Suddenly, as I am walking,
from somewhere there emerges
the smell of stone or rain,
something so infinitely pure
which comes from somewhere or other,
and talks to me without words;
and I recognize a mouth
which is not there, which goes on talking.
I look for the source of that aura–
from what city, from what journey–
I know that someone is looking for me,
someone is lost in the darkness.
And I don’t know, if someone has kissed me,
what those kisses could mean.

Perhaps I have put myself in order,
beginning with my head.
I’m going to divide into numbered squares
my brain and my cerebellum,
and when a memory crops up
I will say ‘a hundred and something’.
Then I will recognize
the wall and the climbing vine,
and perhaps I’ll entertain myself
giving names to forgotten things.
In any case, here
I propose to end all this,
and before going back to Brazil
by way of Antofagasta,
in Isla Negra I am waiting
between yesterday and Valparaisio.

translated by Alastair Reid