- Biographical information
- A Dog Has Died
- A Song Of Despair
- And Because Love Battles
- And Now You are Mine
- Brown and Agile Child
- Clenched Soul
- Death Alone
- Don't Go Far Off
- Drunk As Drunk On Turpentine
- Enigma With Flower
- Entrance Of The Rivers
- Fleas Interest Me So Much
- Here I Love You
- I Can Write The Saddest Lines Tonight
- I Explain A Few Things
- I Like You Calm, As If You Were Absent
- I Remember You As You Were
- If You Forget Me
- In My Sky At Twilight
- In You The Earth
- It’s Good To Feel You Are Close To Me In The Night
- Leaning Into The Afternoons
- Leave Me A Place Underground
- Lost In The Forest
- Love, We're Going Home Now
- Lovely One
- Nothing But Death
- Ode To A Naked Beauty
- Ode To Broken Things
- Poet's Obligation
- Saddest Poem
- So That You Will Hear Me
- Sonnet VIII: If your eyes were not the color of the moon
- Sonnet IX: There where the waves shatter
- Sonnet XI. I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair
- Sonnet XIII:The light that rises from your feet to your hair
- Sonnet XVII: I do not love you as if you were brine-rose, topaz
- Sonnet XXV. Before I loved you, love, nothing was my own
- Sonnet XXVII: Naked you are as simple as one of your hands
- Sonnet XXXIV. You are the daughter of the sea
- Sonnet XLII: I Hunt For A Sign Of You
- Sonnet LXVI: I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
- Sonnet LXXIII: Maybe you'll remember
- Sonnet LXXXI: Rest with your dream inside my dream
- Sonnet LXXXIV. One more time, my love, the net of light extinguishes
- Sonnet XCV: Who ever desired each other as we do
- The Book of Questions - III. Tell me, is the rose naked
- The Fickle One
- The Light Wraps You In Its Mortal Flame
- The People
- The Portrait In The Rock
- The Queen
- The Question
- Walking Around
- Your Laughter
Name: Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto
Pen name: Pablo Neruda
Place and date of birth: Parral (Chile); July 12, 1904
Place and date of death: Santiago de Chile (Chile); September 23, 1973 (aged 69)
- A Dog Has Died
My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.
Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.
Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.
No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.
Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.
Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.
There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.
So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.
A Song Of Despair
The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.
Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!
Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.
In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.
You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!
It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.
Pilot's dread, fury of blind driver,
turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!
In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.
Lost discoverer, in you everything sank!
You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,
sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!
I made the wall of shadow draw back,
beyond desire and act, I walked on.
Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost,
I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.
Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness.
and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.
There was the black solitude of the islands,
and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.
There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.
Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me
in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms!
How terrible and brief my desire was to you!
How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.
Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs,
still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.
Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs,
oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.
Oh the mad coupling of hope and force
in which we merged and despaired.
And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.
And the word scarcely begun on the lips.
This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my longing,
and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank!
Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you,
what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned!
From billow to billow you still called and sang.
Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.
You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents.
Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.
Pale blind diver, luckless slinger,
lost discoverer, in you everything sank!
It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour
which the night fastens to all the timetables.
The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.
Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.
Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.
It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!
I have scarcely left you
When you go in me, crystalline,
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.
We have found each other
Thirsty and we have
Drunk up all the water and the
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
I am not jealous
of what came before me.
Come with a man
on your shoulders,
come with a hundred men in your hair,
come with a thousand men between your breasts and your feet,
come like a river
full of drowned men
which flows down to the wild sea,
to the eternal surf, to Time!
Bring them all
to where I am waiting for you;
we shall always be alone,
we shall always be you and I
alone on earth,
to start our life!
And Because Love Battles
And because love battles
not only in its burning agricultures
but also in the mouth of men and women,
I will finish off by taking the path away
to those who between my chest and your fragrance
want to interpose their obscure plant.
About me, nothing worse
they will tell you, my love,
than what I told you.
I lived in the prairies
before I got to know you
and I did not wait love but I was
laying in wait for and I jumped on the rose.
What more can they tell you?
I am neither good nor bad but a man,
and they will then associate the danger
of my life, which you know
and which with your passion you shared.
And good, this danger
is danger of love, of complete love
for all life,
for all lives,
and if this love brings us
the death and the prisons,
I am sure that your big eyes,
as when I kiss them,
will then close with pride,
into double pride, love,
with your pride and my pride.
But to my ears they will come before
to wear down the tour
of the sweet and hard love which binds us,
and they will say: “The one
is not a woman for you,
Why do you love her? I think
you could find one more beautiful,
more serious, more deep,
more other, you understand me, look how she’s light,
and what a head she has,
and look at how she dresses,
and etcetera and etcetera”.
And I in these lines say:
Like this I want you, love,
love, Like this I love you,
as you dress
and how your hair lifts up
and how your mouth smiles,
light as the water
of the spring upon the pure stones,
Like this I love you, beloved.
To bread I do not ask to teach me
but only not to lack during every day of life.
I don’t know anything about light, from where
it comes nor where it goes,
I only want the light to light up,
I do not ask to the night
I wait for it and it envelops me,
And so you, bread and light
And shadow are.
You came to my life
with what you were bringing,
of light and bread and shadow I expected you,
and Like this I need you,
Like this I love you,
and to those who want to hear tomorrow
that which I will not tell them, let them read it here,
and let them back off today because it is early
for these arguments.
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.
And Now You are Mine
And now you are mine. Rest with your dream in my dream.
Love and pain and work should all sleep, now.
The night turns on its invisible wheels,
And you are pure beside me as a sleeping ember.
No one else, Love, will sleep in my dreams. You will go,
We will go together, over the waters of time.
No one else will travel through the shadows with me,
Only you, ever green, ever sun, ever moon.
Your hands have already opened their delicate fists
And let their soft drifting signs drop away;
Your eyes closed like two gray wings, and I move
After, following the folding water you carry, that carries
Me away. The night, the world, the wind spin out their destiny.
Without you, I am your dream, only that, and that is all.
It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air -
and there, night came in.
When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography -
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.
Brown and Agile Child
Brown and agile child, the sun which forms the fruit
And ripens the grain and twists the seaweed
Has made your happy body and your luminous eyes
And given your mouth the smile of water.
A black and anguished sun is entangled in the twigs
Of your black mane when you hold out your arms.
You play in the sun as in a tidal river
And it leaves two dark pools in your eyes.
Brown and agile child, nothing draws me to you,
Everything pulls away from me here in the noon.
You are the delirious youth of bee,
The drunkedness of the wave, the power of the wheat.
My somber heart seeks you always
I love your happy body, your rich, soft voice.
Dusky butterfly, sweet and sure
Like the wheatfiled, the sun, the poppy, and the water.
We have lost even this twilight.
No one saw us this evening hand in hand
while the blue night dropped on the world.
I have seen from my window
the fiesta of sunset in the distant mountain tops.
Sometimes a piece of sun
burned like a coin in my hand.
I remembered you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know.
Where were you then?
Who else was there?
Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly
when I am sad and feel you are far away?
The book fell that always closed at twilight
and my blue sweater rolled like a hurt dog at my feet.
Always, always you recede through the evenings
toward the twilight erasing statues.
There are lone cemeteries,
tombs full of soundless bones,
the heart threading a tunnel,
a dark, dark tunnel :
like a wreck we die to the very core,
as if drowning at the heart
or collapsing inwards from skin to soul.
There are corpses,
clammy slabs for feet,
there is death in the bones,
like a pure sound,
a bark without its dog,
out of certain bells, certain tombs
swelling in this humidity like lament or rain.
I see, when alone at times,
coffins under sail
setting out with the pale dead, women in their dead braids,
bakers as white as angels,
thoughtful girls married to notaries,
coffins ascending the vertical river of the dead,
the wine-dark river to its source,
with their sails swollen with the sound of death,
filled with the silent noise of death.
Death is drawn to sound
like a slipper without a foot, a suit without its wearer,
comes to knock with a ring, stoneless and fingerless,
comes to shout without a mouth, a tongue, without a throat.
Nevertheless its footsteps sound
and its clothes echo, hushed like a tree.
I do not know, I am ignorant, I hardly see
but it seems to me that its song has the colour of wet violets,
violets well used to the earth,
since the face of death is green,
and the gaze of death green
with the etched moisture of a violet's leaf
and its grave colour of exasperated winter.
But death goes about the earth also, riding a broom
lapping the ground in search of the dead -
death is in the broom,
it is the tongue of death looking for the dead,
the needle of death looking for the thread.
Death lies in our beds :
in the lazy mattresses, the black blankets,
lives a full stretch and then suddenly blows,
blows sound unknown filling out the sheets
and there are beds sailing into a harbour
where death is waiting, dressed as an admiral.
Don't Go Far Off
Don't go far off, not even for a day, because --
because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.
Don't leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.
Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,
because in that moment you'll have gone so far
I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?
Drunk As Drunk On Turpentine
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 out 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, drowzy 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.
Enigma With Flower
Victory. It has come late, I had not learnt
how to arrive, like the lily, at will,
the white figure, that pierces
the motionless eternity of earth,
pushing at clear, faint, form,
till the hour strikes: that clay,
with a white ray, or a spur of milk.
Shedding of clothing, the thick darkness of soil,
on whose cliff the fair flower advances,
till the flag of its whiteness
defeats the contemptible deep of night,
and, from the motion of light,
spills itself in astonished seed.
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
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.
Entrance Of The Rivers
Beloved of the rivers,beset
By azure water and transparent drops,
Like a tree of veins your spectre
Of dark goddess biting apples:
And then awakening naked
To be tattoed by the rivers,
And in the wet heights your head
Filled the world with new dew.
Water rose to your waist,
You are made of wellsprings
And lakes shone on your forehead.
From your sources of density you drew
Water like vital tears
And hauled the riverbeds to the sand
Across the planetary night,
Crossing rough, dilated stone,
Breaking down on the way
All the salt of geology,
Cutting through forests of compact walls
Dislodging the muscles of quartz.
Matilde, years or days
here or there,
twisting my spine,
bleeding true blood,
perhaps I awaken
or am lost, sleeping:
hospital beds, foreign windows,
white uniforms of the silent walkers,
the clumsiness of feet.
And then, these journeys
and my sea of renewal:
your head on the pillow,
your hands floating
in the light, in my light,
over my earth.
It was beautiful to live
when you lived!
The world is bluer and of the earth
at night, when I sleep
enormous, within your small hands
Fleas Interest Me So Much
Fleas interest me so much
that I let them bite me for hours.
They are perfect, ancient, Sanskrit,
machines that admit of no appeal.
They do not bite to eat,
they bite only to jump;
they are the dancers of the celestial sphere,
in the softest and most profound circus;
let them gallop on my skin,
divulge their emotions,
amuse themselves with my blood,
but someone should introduce them to me.
I want to know them closely,
I want to know what to rely on.
Here I Love You
Here I love you.
In the dark pines the wind disentangles itself.
The moon glows like phosphorous on the vagrant waters.
Days, all one kind, go chasing each other.
The snow unfurls in dancing figures.
A silver gull slips down from the west.
Sometimes a sail. High, high stars.
Oh the black cross of a ship.
Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.
Far away the sea sounds and resounds.
This is a port.
Here I love you.
Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain.
I love you still among these cold things.
Sometimes my kisses go on those heavy vessels
that cross the sea towards no arrival.
I see myself forgotten like those old anchors.
The piers sadden when the afternoon moors there.
My life grows tired, hungry to no purpose.
I love what I do not have. You are so far.
My loathing wrestles with the slow twilights.
But night comes and starts to sing to me.
The moon turns its clockwork dream.
The biggest stars look at me with your eyes.
And as I love you, the pines in the wind
want to sing your name with their leaves of wire.
I Can Write The Saddest Lines Tonight
I can write the saddest lines tonight.
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.
I Explain A Few Things
You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs?
and the poppy-petalled metaphysics?
and the rain repeatedly spattering
its words and drilling them full
of apertures and birds?
I'll tell you all the news.
I lived in a suburb,
a suburb of Madrid, with bells,
and clocks, and trees.
From there you could look out
over Castille's dry face:
a leather ocean.
My house was called
the house of flowers, because in every cranny
geraniums burst: it was
a good-looking house
with its dogs and children.
Eh, Rafel? Federico, do you remember
from under the ground
my balconies on which
the light of June drowned flowers in your mouth?
Brother, my brother!
loud with big voices, the salt of merchandises,
pile-ups of palpitating bread,
the stalls of my suburb of Arguelles with its statue
like a drained inkwell in a swirl of hake:
oil flowed into spoons,
a deep baying
of feet and hands swelled in the streets,
metres, litres, the sharp
measure of life,
the texture of roofs with a cold sun in which
the weather vane falters,
the fine, frenzied ivory of potatoes,
wave on wave of tomatoes rolling down the sea.
And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings -
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children's blood.
Jackals that the jackals would despise,
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate!
Face to face with you I have seen the blood
of Spain tower like a tide
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives!
see my dead house,
look at broken Spain :
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers,
from every socket of Spain
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes,
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull's eye of your hearts.
And you'll ask: why doesn't his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land?
Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
The blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
In the streets!
I Like You Calm, As If You Were Absent
I like you calm, as if you were absent,
and you hear me far-off, and my voice does not touch you.
It seems that your eyelids have taken to flying:
it seems that a kiss has sealed up your mouth.
Since all these things are filled with my spirit,
you come from things, filled with my spirit.
You appear as my soul, as the butterfly’s dreaming,
and you appear as Sadness’s word.
I like you calm, as if you were distant,
you are a moaning, a butterfly’s cooing.
You hear me far-off, my voice does not reach you.
Let me be calmed, then, calmed by your silence.
Let me commune, then, commune with your silence,
clear as a light, and pure as a ring.
You are like night, calmed, constellated.
Your silence is star-like, as distant, as true.
I like you calm, as if you were absent:
distant and saddened, as if you were dead.
One word at that moment, a smile, is sufficient.
And I thrill, then, I thrill: that it cannot be so.
I Remember You As You Were
I remember you as you were in the last autumn.
You were the grey beret and the still heart.
In your eyes the flames of the twilight fought on.
And the leaves fell in the water of your soul.
Clasping my arms like a climbing plant
the leaves garnered your voice, that was slow and at peace.
Bonfire of awe in which my thirst was burning.
Sweet blue hyacinth twisted over my soul.
I feel your eyes traveling, and the autumn is far off:
Grey beret, voice of a bird, heart like a house
Towards which my deep longings migrated
And my kisses fell, happy as embers.
Sky from a ship. Field from the hills:
Your memory is made of light, of smoke, of a still pond!
Beyond your eyes, farther on, the evenings were blazing.
Dry autumn leaves revolved in your soul.
If You Forget Me
I want you to know
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
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.
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,
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.
In My Sky At Twilight
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.
In You The Earth
tiny and naked,
as though you would fit
in one of my hands,
as though I’ll clasp you like this
and carry you to my mouth,
my feet touch your feet and my mouth your lips:
you have grown,
your shoulders rise like two hills,
your breasts wander over my breast,
my arm scarcely manages to encircle the thin
new-moon line of your waist:
in love you loosened yourself like sea water:
I can scarcely measure the sky’s most spacious eyes
and I lean down to your mouth to kiss the earth.
It’s Good To Feel You Are Close To Me In The Night
It’s good to feel you are close to me in the night, love,
invisible in your sleep, intently nocturnal,
while I untangle my worries
as if they were twisted nets.
Withdrawn, your heart sails through dream,
but your body, relinquished so, breathes
seeking me without seeing me perfecting my dream
like a plant that seeds itself in the dark.
Rising, you will be that other, alive in the dawn,
but from the frontiers lost in the night,
from the presence and the absence where we meet ourselves,
something remains, drawing us into the light of life
as if the sign of the shadows had sealed
its secret creatures with flame.
Leaning Into The Afternoons
Leaning into the afternoons I cast my sad nets
towards your oceanic eyes.
There in the highest blaze my solitude lengthens and flames,
its arms turning like a drowning man's.
I send out red signals across your absent eyes
that smell like the sea or the beach by a lighthouse.
You keep only darkness, my distant female,
from your regard sometimes the coast of dread emerges.
Leaning into the afternoons I fling my sad nets
to that sea that is thrashed by your oceanic eyes.
The birds of night peck at the first stars
that flash like my soul when I love you.
The night gallops on its shadowy mare
shedding blue tassels over the land.
Leave Me A Place Underground
Leave me a place underground, a labyrinth,
where I can go, when I wish to turn,
without eyes, without touch,
in the void, to dumb stone,
or the finger of shadow.
I know that you cannot, no one, no thing
can deliver up that place, or that path,
but what can I do with my pitiful passions,
if they are no use, on the surface
of everyday life,
if I cannot look to survive,
except by dying, going beyond, entering
into the state, metallic and slumbering,
of primeval flame?
Lost In The Forest
Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig
and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips:
maybe it was the voice of the rain crying,
a cracked bell, or a torn heart.
Something from far off it seemed
deep and secret to me, hidden by the earth,
a shout muffled by huge autumns,
by the moist half-open darkness of the leaves.
Wakening from the dreaming forest there, the hazel-sprig
sang under my tongue, its drifting fragrance
climbed up through my conscious mind
as if suddenly the roots I had left behind
cried out to me, the land I had lost with my childhood--
and I stopped, wounded by the wandering scent.
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,
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,
beneath your double breast scarcely
a current of crystalline order
that does not know why it flows singing.
Why, why, why,
my love, why?
Love, We're Going Home Now
Love, we're going home now,
Where the vines clamber over the trellis:
Even before you, the summer will arrive,
On its honeysuckle feet, in your bedroom.
Our nomadic kisses wandered over all the world:
Armenia, dollop of disinterred honey:
Ceylon, green dove: and the YangTse with its old
Old patience, dividing the day from the night.
And now, dearest, we return, across the crackling sea
Like two blind birds to their wall,
To their nest in a distant spring:
Because love cannot always fly without resting,
Our lives return to the wall, to the rocks of the sea:
Our kisses head back home where they belong.
Just as on the cool stone
Of the spring, the water
Opens a wide flash of foam,
So is the smile of your face,
With delicate hands and slender feet
Like a silver pony,
Walking, flower of the world,
Thus I see you,
With a nest of copper entangled
On your head, a nest
The coloUr of dark honey
Where my heart burns and rests,
Your eyes are too big for your face,
Your eyes are too big for the earth.
There are countries, there are rivers,
In your eyes,
My country is your eyes,
I walk through them,
They light the world
Through which I walk,
Your breasts are like two loaves made
Of grainy earth and golden moon,
My arm shaped it like a river when
It flowed a thousand years through your sweet body,
There is nothing like your hips,
Perhaps earth has
In some hidden place
The curve and the fragrance of your body,
Perhaps in some place,
Lovely one, my lovely one,
Your voice, your skin, your nails,
Lovely one, my lovely one,
Your being, your light, your shadow,
All that is mine, lovely one,
All that is mine, my dear,
When you walk or rest,
When you sing or sleep,
When you suffer or dream,
When you are near or far,
You are mine, my lovely one,
Nothing But Death
There are cemeteries that are lonely,
graves full of bones that do not make a sound,
the heart moving through a tunnel,
in it darkness, darkness, darkness,
like a shipwreck we die going into ourselves,
as though we were drowning inside our hearts,
as though we lived falling out of the skin into the soul.
And there are corpses,
feet made of cold and sticky clay,
death is inside the bones,
like a barking where there are no dogs,
coming out from bells somewhere, from graves somewhere,
growing in the damp air like tears of rain.
Sometimes I see alone
coffins under sail,
embarking with the pale dead, with women that have dead hair,
with bakers who are as white as angels,
and pensive young girls married to notary publics,
caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead,
the river of dark purple,
moving upstream with sails filled out by the sound of death,
filled by the sound of death which is silence.
Death arrives among all that sound
like a shoe with no foot in it, like a suit with no man in it,
comes and knocks, using a ring with no stone in it, with no
finger in it,
comes and shouts with no mouth, with no tongue, with no
Nevertheless its steps can be heard
and its clothing makes a hushed sound, like a tree.
I'm not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,
but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,
of violets that are at home in the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the look death gives is green,
with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf
and the somber color of embittered winter.
But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom,
lapping the floor, looking for dead bodies,
death is inside the broom,
the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses,
it is the needle of death looking for thread.
Death is inside the folding cots:
it spends its life sleeping on the slow mattresses,
in the black blankets, and suddenly breathes out:
it blows out a mournful sound that swells the sheets,
and the beds go sailing toward a port
where death is waiting, dressed like an admiral
Ode To A Naked Beauty
With chaste heart, and pure
I celebrate you, my beauty,
restraining my blood
so that the line
surges and follows
and you bed yourself in my verse,
as in woodland, or wave-spume:
whether it is your feet, arching
at a primal touch
of sound or breeze,
or your ears,
tiny spiral shells
from the splendour of America's oceans.
Your breasts also,
of equal fullness, overflowing
with the living light
your eyelids of silken corn
the deep twin landscapes of your eyes.
The line of your back
falls away into paler regions
to the smooth hemispheres
of an apple,
and goes splitting
into two pillars
of burnt gold, pure alabaster,
to be lost in the twin clusters of your feet,
from which, once more, lifts and takes fire
the double tree of your symmetry:
flower of fire, open circle of candles,
swollen fruit raised
over the meeting of earth and ocean.
Your body - from what substances
agate, quartz, ears of wheat,
did it flow, was it gathered,
rising like bread
in the warmth,
and signalling hills
valleys of a single petal, sweetnesses
of velvet depth,
until the pure, fine, form of woman
and rested there?
It is not so much light that falls
over the world
extended by your body
its suffocating snow,
as brightness, pouring itself out of you,
as if you were
Under your skin the moon is alive
Ode To Broken Things
Things get broken
like they were pushed
by an invisible, deliberate smasher.
It's not my hands
It wasn't the girls
with their hard fingernails
or the motion of the planet.
It wasn't anything or anybody
It wasn't the wind
It wasn't the orange-colored noontime
Or night over the earth
It wasn't even the nose or the elbow
Or the hips getting bigger
or the ankle
or the air.
The plate broke, the lamp fell
All the flower pots tumbled over
one by one. That pot
which overflowed with scarlet
in the middle of October,
it got tired from all the violets
and another empty one
rolled round and round and round
all through winter
until it was only the powder
of a flowerpot,
a broken memory, shining dust.
And that clock
the voice of our lives,
thread of our weeks,
one by one, so many hours
for honey and silence
for so many births and jobs,
that clock also
and its delicate blue guts
among the broken glass
its wide heart
Life goes on grinding up
glass, wearing out clothes
and what lasts through time
is like an island on a ship in the sea,
surrounded by dangerous fragility
by merciless waters and threats.
Let's put all our treasures together
-- the clocks, plates, cups cracked by the cold --
into a sack and carry them
to the sea
and let our possessions sink
into one alarming breaker
that sounds like a river.
May whatever breaks
be reconstructed by the sea
with the long labor of its tides.
So many useless things
which nobody broke
but which got broken anyway
To whoever is not listening to the sea
this Friday morning, to whoever is cooped up
in house or office, factory or woman
or street or mine or harsh prison cell;
to him I come, and, without speaking or looking,
I arrive and open the door of his prison,
and a vibration starts up, vague and insistent,
a great fragment of thunder sets in motion
the rumble of the planet and the foam,
the raucous rivers of the ocean flood,
the star vibrates swiftly in its corona,
and the sea is beating, dying and continuing.
So, drawn on by my destiny,
I ceaselessly must listen to and keep
the sea's lamenting in my awareness,
I must feel the crash of the hard water
and gather it up in a perpetual cup
so that, wherever those in prison may be,
wherever they suffer the autumn's castigation,
I may be there with an errant wave,
I may move, passing through windows,
and hearing me, eyes will glance upward
saying 'How can I reach the sea?'
And I shall broadcast, saying nothing,
the starry echoes of the wave,
a breaking up of foam and quicksand,
a rustling of salt withdrawing,
the grey cry of the sea-birds on the coast.
So, through me, freedom and the sea
will make their answer to the shuttered heart.
And it was at that age... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.
I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.
And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.
I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
Write, for instance: "The night is full of stars,
and the stars, blue, shiver in the distance."
The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.
I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
On nights like this, I held her in my arms.
I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky.
She loved me, sometimes I loved her.
How could I not have loved her large, still eyes?
I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
To think I don't have her. To feel that I've lost her.
To hear the immense night, more immense without her.
And the poem falls to the soul as dew to grass.
What does it matter that my love couldn't keep her.
The night is full of stars and she is not with me.
That's all. Far away, someone sings. Far away.
My soul is lost without her.
As if to bring her near, my eyes search for her.
My heart searches for her and she is not with me.
The same night that whitens the same trees.
We, we who were, we are the same no longer.
I no longer love her, true, but how much I loved her.
My voice searched the wind to touch her ear.
Someone else's. She will be someone else's. As she once
belonged to my kisses.
Her voice, her light body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I love her.
Love is so short and oblivion so long.
Because on nights like this I held her in my arms,
my soul is lost without her.
Although this may be the last pain she causes me,
and this may be the last poem I write for her.
So That You Will Hear Me
So that you will hear me
sometimes grow thin
as the tracks of the gulls on the beaches.
Necklace, drunken bell
for your hands smooth as grapes.
And I watch my words from a long way off.
They are more yours than mine.
They climb on my old suffering like ivy.
It climbs the same way on damp walls.
You are to blame for this cruel sport.
They are fleeing from my dark lair.
You fill everything, you fill everything.
Before you they peopled the solitude that you occupy,
and they are more used to my sadness than you are.
Now I want them to say what I want to say to you
to make you hear as I want you to hear me.
The wind of anguish still hauls on them as usual.
Sometimes hurricanes of dreams still knock them over.
You listen to other voices in my painful voice.
Lament of old mouths, blood of old supplications.
Love me, companion. Don't forsake me. Follow me.
Follow me, companion, on this wave of anguish.
But my words become stained with your love.
You occupy everything, you occupy everything.
I am making them into an endless necklace
for your white hands, smooth as grapes.
Sonnet VIII: If your eyes were not the color of the moon
If your eyes were not the color of the moon,
of a day full [here, interrupted by the baby waking - continued about 26
hours later ]
of a day full of clay, and work, and fire,
if even held-in you did not move in agile grace like the air,
if you were not an amber week,
not the yellow moment
when autumn climbs up through the vines;
if you were not that bread the fragrant moon
kneads, sprinkling its flour across the sky,
oh, my dearest, I could not love you so!
But when I hold you I hold everything that is -
sand, time, the tree of the rain,
everything is alive so that I can be alive:
without moving I can see it all:
in your life I see everything that lives.
Sonnet IX: There where the waves shatter
There where the waves shatter on the restless rocks
the clear light bursts and enacts its rose,
and the sea-circle shrinks to a cluster of buds,
to one drop of blue salt, falling.
O bright magnolia bursting in the foam,
magnetic transient whose death blooms
and vanishes--being, nothingness--forever:
broken salt, dazzling lurch of the sea.
You & I, Love, together we ratify the silence,
while the sea destroys its perpetual statues,
collapses its towers of wild speed and whiteness:
because in the weavings of those invisible fabrics,
galloping water, incessant sand,
we make the only permanent tenderness.
Sonnet XI. I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair
Sonnet XI. I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.
I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,
and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.
Sonnet XIII:The light that rises from your feet to your hair
The light that rises from your feet to your hair,
the strength enfolding your delicate form,
are not mother of pearl, not chilly silver:
you are made of bread, a bread the fire adores.
The grain grew high in its harvest of you,
in good time the flour swelled;
as the dough rose, doubling your breasts,
my love was the coal waiting ready in the earth.
Oh, bread your forehead, your legs, your mouth,
bread I devour, born with the morning light,
my love, beacon-flag of the bakeries:
fire taugh you a lesson of the blood;
you learned your holiness from flour,
from bread your language and aroma.
Sonnet XVII: I do not love you as if you were brine-rose, topaz
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
Sonnet XXV. Before I loved you, love, nothing was my own
Before I loved you, love, nothing was my own:
I wavered through the streets, among
Nothing mattered or had a name:
The world was made of air, which waited.
I knew rooms full of ashes,
Tunnels where the moon lived,
Rough warehouses that growled 'get lost',
Questions that insisted in the sand.
Everything was empty, dead, mute,
Fallen abandoned, and decayed:
Inconceivably alien, it all
Belonged to someone else - to no one:
Till your beauty and your poverty
Filled the autumn plentiful with gifts.
Sonnet XXVII: Naked You Are As Simple As One Of Your Hands
Naked, you are simple as one of your hands,
Smooth, earthy, small, transparent, round:
You have moonlines, applepathways:
Naked, you are slender as a naked grain of wheat.
Naked, you are blue as the night in Cuba;
You have vines and stars in your hair;
Naked, you are spacious and yellow
As summer in a golden church.
Naked, you are tiny as one of your nails,
Curved, subtle, rosy, till the day is born
And you withdraw to the underground world,
as if down a long tunnel of clothing and of chores:
Your clear light dims, gets dressed, drops its leaves,
And becomes a naked hand again.
Sonnet XXXIV. You are the daughter of the sea
You are the daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin.
Swimmer, your body is pure as the water;
cook, your blood is quick as the soil.
Everything you do is full of flowers, rich with the earth.
Your eyes go out toward the water, and the waves rise;
your hands go out to the earth and the seeds swell;
you know the deep essence of water and the earth,
conjoined in you like a formula for clay.
Naiad: cut your body into turquoise pieces,
they will bloom resurrected in the kitchen.
This is how you become everything that lives.
And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms
that push back the shadows so that you can rest--
vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.
Sonnet XLII: I Hunt For A Sign Of You
I hunt for a sign of you in all the others,
In the rapid undulant river of women,
Braids, shyly sinking eyes,
Light step that slices, sailing through the foam.
Suddenly I think I can make out your nails,
Oblong, quick, nieces of a cherry:
Then it's your hair that passes by, and I think
I see your image, a bonfire, burning in the water.
I searched, but no one else had your rhythms,
Your light, the shady day you brought from the forest;
Nobody had your tiny ears.
You are whole, exact, and everything you are is one,
And so I go along, with you I float along, loving
A wide Mississippi toward a feminine sea.
Sonnet LXVI: I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.
I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.
Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.
In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.
Sonnet LXXIII: Maybe you'll remember
Maybe you'll remember that razor-faced man
who slipped out from the dark like a blade
and - before we realized - knew what was there:
he saw the smoke and concluded fire.
The pallid woman with black hair
rose like a fish from the abyss,
and the two of them built up a contraption,
armed to the teeth, against love.
Man and woman, they felled mountains and gardens,
then went down to the river, they scaled the walls,
they hoisted their atrocious artillery up the hill.
Then love knew it was called love.
And when I lifted my eyes to your name,
suddenly your heart showed me my way.
Sonnet LXXXI: Rest with your dream inside my dream
Already, you are mine. Rest with your dream inside my dream.
Love, grief, labour, must sleep now.
Night revolves on invisible wheels
and joined to me you are pure as sleeping amber.
No one else will sleep with my dream, love.
You will go we will go joined by the waters of time.
No other one will travel the shadows with me,
only you, eternal nature, eternal sun, eternal moon.
Already your hands have opened their delicate fists
and let fall, without direction, their gentle signs,
you eyes enclosing themselves like two grey wings,
while I follow the waters you bring that take me onwards:
night, Earth, winds weave their fate, and already,
not only am I not without you, I alone am your dream.
Sonnet LXXXIV. One more time, my love, the net of light extinguishes
One more time, my love, the net of light extinguishes
work, wheels, flames, boredoms and farewells,
and we surrender the swaying wheat to night,
the wheat that noon stole from earth and light.
The moon alone in the midst of its clear page
sustains the pillars of Heaven’s Bay,
the room acquires the slowness of gold,
and your hands go here and there preparing night.
O love, O night. O cupola ringed by a river
of impenetrable water in the shadows of Heaven,
that raises and drowns its tempestuous orbs,
until we are only the one dark space
a glass into which fall celestial ashes,
one drop in the flow of a vast slow river
Sonnet XCV: Who ever desired each other as we do
Who ever desired each other as we do? Let us look
for the ancient ashes of hearts that burned,
and let our kisses touch there, one by one,
till the flower, disembodied, rises again.
Let us love that Desire that consumed its own fruit
and went down, aspect and power, into the earth:
We are its continuing light,
its indestructible, fragile seed
The Book of Questions. III - Tell me, is the rose naked
Tell me, is the rose naked
or is that her only dress?
Why do trees conceal
the splendor of their roots?
Who hears the regrets
of the thieving automobile?
Is there anything in the world sadder
than a train standing in the rain?
The Fickle One
My eyes went away from me
Following a dark girl who went by.
She was made of black motherofpearl
Made of darkpurple grapes,
And she lashed my blood
With her tail of fire.
After them all I go.
A pale blonde went by
Like a golden plant
Swaying her gifts.
And my mouth went
Like a wave
Discharging on her breast
Lightningbolts of blood.
After them all I go.
But to you, without my moving,
Without seeing you, distant you,
Go my blood and my kisses,
My dark one and my fair one,
My broad one and my slender one,
My ugly one, my beauty,
Made of all the gold
And of all the silver,
Made of all the wheat
And of all the earth,
Made of all the water
Of sea waves,
Made for my arms
Made for my kisses,
Made for my soul.
The Light Wraps You In Its Mortal Flame
The light wraps you in its mortal flame.
Abstracted pale mourner, standing that way
Against the old propellers of the twilight
That revolves around you.
Speechless, my friend,
Alone in the loneliness of this hour of the dead
And filled with the lives of fire,
Pure heir of the ruined day.
A bough of fruit falls from the sun on your dark garment.
The great roots of night grow suddenly from your soul,
And the things that hide in you come out again
So that a blue and pallid people,
Your newly born, takes nourishment.
Oh magnificent and fecund and magnetic slave
Of the circle that moves in turn through black and gold:
Rise, lead and possess a creation
So rich in life that its flowers perish
And it is full of sadness.
I recall that man and not two centuries
have passed since I saw him,
he went neither by horse nor by carriage:
purely on foot
and carried no sword or armour,
only nets on his shoulder,
axe or hammer or spade,
never fighting the rest of his species:
his exploits were with water and earth,
with wheat so that it turned into bread,
with giant trees to render them wood,
with walls to open up doors,
with sand to construct the walls,
and with ocean for it to bear.
I knew him and he is still not cancelled in me.
The carriages fell to pieces,
war destroyed doors and walls,
the city was a handful of ashes,
all the clothes turned to dust,
and he remains to me,
he survives in the sand,
when everything before
seemed imperishable but him.
In the going and coming of families
at times he was my father or kinsman
or perhaps it was scarcely him or not
the one who did not return to his house
because water or earth swallowed him up
or a tree or an engine killed him,
or he was the saddened carpenter
who went behind the coffin, without tears,
someone in the end who had no name,
except those that metal or timber have,
and on whom others gazed from on high
without seeing the ant
for the anthill
and so that when his feet did not stir,
because the poor exhausted one had died,
they never saw what they had not seen:
already there were other feet where he'd been.
The other feet were still his,
and the other hands,
the man remained:
when it seemed that now he was done for
he was the same once more,
there he was digging again at the earth,
cutting cloth, minus a shirt,
there he was and was not, like before,
he had gone down and was once more,
and since he never owned graveyards,
or tombs, nor was his name carved
on the stone he sweated to quarry,
no one knew he had come
and no one knew when he died,
so that only when the poor man could
he returned to life once more, without it being noted.
He was the man, no doubt of it, without heritage,
without cattle, without a flag,
and he was not distinguished from others,
the others who were him,
from the heights he was grey like the subsoil,
tanned like the leather,
he was yellow reaping the wheat,
he was black down in the mine,
he was the colour of stone on the fortress,
in the fishing boat the colour of tuna,
and the colour of horses in the meadow:
how could anyone distinguish him
if he was inseparable, elemental,
earth, coal or sea vested in man?
Where he lived whatever
a man touched grew:
the hostile stones,
by his hands,
took on order
and one by one formed
the right clarity of a building,
he made bread with his hands,
moved the engines,
the distances peopled themselves with towns,
other men grew,
and by man's creating and breeding
spring walked the market squares
between bakeries and doves.
The maker of loaves was forgotten,
he who quarried and journeyed, beating down
and opening furrows, transporting sand,
when everything existed he no longer existed,
he gave his existence, that's all.
He went elsewhere to labour, and at last
he was dead, rolling
like a stone in the river:
death carried him downstream.
I, who knew him, saw him descend
till he was no longer except what he left:
roads he could scarcely know,
houses he never ever would live in.
I turn to see him, and I await him
I see him in his grave and resurrected.
I distinguish him among all
who are his equals
and it seems to me it cannot be,
that like this we go nowhere,
that to survive like this holds no glory.
I believe that this man
must be enthroned, rightly shod and crowned.
I believe that those who made such things
must be the masters of all these things.
And that those who made bread should eat!
And those in the mines must have light!
Enough now of grey men enslaved!
Enough of the pale 'missing ones'!
Not another man passes except as a king.
Not a single woman without her crown.
Golden gauntlets for every hand.
Fruits of the sun for all the unknowns!
I knew that man and when I could,
when he still had eyes in his head,
when he still had a voice in his mouth
I searched for him among tombs, and I said
grasping his arm that was not yet dust:
'All will be gone, you will live on,
You ignite life.
You made what is yours.'
So let no one trouble themselves when
I seem to be alone and am not alone,
I am with no one and speak for them all:
Some listen to me, without knowing,
but those I sing, those who do know
go on being born, and will fill up the Earth.
The Portrait In The Rock
Oh yes I knew him, I spent years with him,
with his golden and stony substance,
he was a man who was tired -
in Paraguay he left his father and mother,
his sons, his nephews,
his latest in-laws,
his house, his chickens,
and some half-opened books.
They called him to the door.
When he opened it, the police took him,
and they beat him up so much
that he spat blood in France, in Denmark,
in Spain, in Italy, moving about,
and so he died and I stopped seeing his face,
stopped hearing his profound silence ;
then once, on a night of storms,
with snow spreading
a smooth cloak on the mountains,
on horseback, there, far off,
I looked and there was my friend -
his face was formed in stone,
his profile defied the wild weather,
in his nose the wind was muffling
the moaning of the persecuted.
There the exile came to ground.
Changed into stone, he lives in his own country.
I have named you queen.
There are taller than you, taller.
There are purer than you, purer.
There are lovelier than you, lovelier.
But you are the queen.
When you go through the streets
No one recognizes you.
No one sees your crystal crown, no one looks
At the carpet of red gold
That you tread as you pass,
The nonexistent carpet.
And when you appear
All the rivers sound
In my body, bells
Shake the sky,
And a hymn fills the world.
Only you and I,
Only you and I, my love,
Listen to me.
Love, a question
has destroyed you.
I have come back to you
from thorny uncertainty.
I want you straight as
the sword or the road.
But you insist
on keeping a nook
of shadow that I do not want.
I love all of you,
from eyes to feet, to toenails,
all the brightness, which you kept.
It is I, my love,
who knocks at your door.
It is not the ghost, it is not
the one who once stopped
at your window.
I knock down the door:
I enter your life:
I come to live in your soul:
you cannot cope with me.
You must open door to door,
you must obey me,
you must open your eyes
so that I may search in them,
you must see how I walk
with heavy steps
along all the roads
that, blind, were waiting for me.
Do not fear,
I am yours,
I am not the passenger or the beggar,
I am your master,
the one you were waiting for,
and now I enter
no more to leave it,
love, love, love,
but to stay.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.
The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.
It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.
Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the cold.
I don't want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.
I don't want so much misery.
I don't want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.
That's why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the
And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.
There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical
I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling.
Take my breath away, if you wish,
Take the air away, but
Do not take your laughter away from me.
Do not take the rose away,
The lanceflower that you pluck,
The water that suddenly
Bursts forth in your joy,
The sudden wave
Of silver born in you.
My struggle is harsh and I come back
With tired eyes
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 autumn,
Your laughter must raise
Its foamy cascade,
And in spring, love,
I want your laughter like
The flower I was waiting for,
The blue flower, the rose
Of my echoing country.
Laugh in the night,
In the day, on 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,
But never your laughter
For which I would die.