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Latin love poems: Pablo Neruda

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973) is renowned for his whole body of work, but is perhaps best known for his love poetry, including the set of love poetry that he published in 1924: Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada (Twenty love poems and a song of despair).

Born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, Neruda's work has been translated into many languages and has sold over a million copies worldwide. Neruda always wrote in green ink as it was his personal color of hope.

Be inspired by the joy, passion, beauty, and melancholy of love as expressed by this Nobel-prize winning poet.

Tonight I can write (from “Twenty Poems of Love”)

pablo-nerudaTonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write for example: ‘The night is fractured
and they shiver, blue, those stars, in the distance’
The night wind turns in the sky and sings.
I can write the saddest lines tonight.
I loved her, sometimes she loved me too.
On nights like these I held her in my arms.
I kissed her greatly under the infinite sky.
She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could I not have loved her huge, still eyes.
I can write the saddest lines tonight.
To think I don’t have her, to feel I have lost her.
Hear the vast night, vaster without her.
Lines fall on the soul like dew on the grass.
What does it matter that I couldn’t keep her.
The night is fractured and she is not with me.
That is all. Someone sings far off. Far off,
my soul is not content to have lost her.
As though to reach her, my sight looks for her.
My heart looks for her: she is not with me
The same night whitens, in the same branches.
We, from that time, we are not the same.
I don’t love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the breeze to reach her.
Another’s kisses on her, like my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body, infinite eyes.
I don’t love her, that’s certain, but perhaps I love her.
Love is brief: forgetting lasts so long.
Since, on these nights, I held her in my arms,
my soul is not content to have lost her.
Though this is the last pain she will make me suffer,
and these are the last lines I will write for her.

 

Sonata

Neither the heart cut by a piece of glass in a wasteland of thorns
nor the atrocious waters seen in the corners
of certain houses, waters like eyelids and eyes
can capture your waist in my hands
when my heart lifts its oaks
towards your unbreakable thread of snow.
Nocturnal sugar, spirit
of the crowns,
ransomed
human blood, your kisses
send into exile
and a stroke of water, with remnants of the sea,
neats on the silences that wait for you
surrounding the worn chairs, wearing out doors.
Nights with bright spindles,
divided, material, nothing
but voice, nothing but
naked every day.
Over your breasts of motionless current,
over your legs of firmness and water,
over the permanence and the pride
of your naked hair
I want to be, my love, now that the tears are thrown
into the raucous baskets where they accumulate,
I want to be, my love, alone with a syllable
of mangled silver, alone with a tip
of your breast of snow.

 

Your Feet

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.

 

Your hands (from "The Captain's Verses")

When your hands leap
towards mine, love,
what do they bring me in flight?
Why did they stop
at my lips, so suddenly,
why do I know them,
as if once before,
I have touched them,
as if, before being,
they travelled
my forehead, my waist?
Their smoothness came
winging through time,
over the sea and the smoke,
over the Spring,
and when you laid
your hands on my chest
I knew those wings
of the gold doves,
I knew that clay,
and that colour of grain.
The years of my life
have been roadways of searching,
a climbing of stairs,
a crossing of reefs.
Trains hurled me onwards
waters recalled me,
on the surface of grapes
it seemed that I touched you.
Wood, of a sudden,
made contact with you,
the almond-tree summoned
your hidden smoothness,
until both your hands
closed on my chest,
like a pair of wings
ending their flight.

 

Drunk as Drunk

Drunk as drunk on turpentine
From your open kisses,
Your wet body wedged
Between my wet body and the strake
Of our boat that is made of flowers,
Feasted, we guide it - our fingers
Like tallows adorned with yellow metal -
Over the sky's hot rim,
The day's last breath in our sails.
Pinned by the sun between solstice
And equinox, drowsy and tangled together
We drifted for months and woke
With the bitter taste of land on our lips,
Eyelids all sticky, and we longed for lime
And the sound of a rope
Lowering a bucket down its well. Then,
We came by night to the Fortunate Isles,
And lay like fish
Under the net of our kisses.

 

Two happy lovers...

Two happy lovers make one bread,
a single moon drop in the grass.
Walking, they cast two shadows that flow together;
waking, they leave one sun empty in their bed.
Of all the possible truths, they chose the day;
they held it, not with ropes but with an aroma.
They did not shred the peace; they did not shatter words;
their happiness is a transparent tower.
The air and wine accompany the lovers.
The night delights them with its joyous petals.
They have a right to all the carnations.
Two happy lovers, without an ending, with no death,
they are born, they die, many times while they live:
they have the eternal life of the Natural.

 

Your Laughter

Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.
Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.
My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.
My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.
Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.
Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

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Comments (1)

  1. vicki:
    Jun 01, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    Beautiful poems, he had such an incredible soul, I visited his house in Isla Negra in Chile, so lovely






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