Thursday, August 18, 2005

There's no forgetting

This is a poem written by Pablo Neruda. I love Neruda and if I had been alive during his time I would have been his greatest fan or stalker or whatever possible to know him better. I had a book of his poems which is now missing. I only have a print of this one poem now which is my favourite.
There have been many times when people have met me after long periods of time and asked me that question- Where have you been?
I have felt like handing over this poem to them so they would never ask me that again. So here's Pablo Neruda for you...

If you should ask me where I've been all this time
I have to say ' things happen'
I have to dwell on stones darkening the earth,
on the river ruined in it's own duration:
I know nothing save things the birds have lost,
the sea I left behind , or my sister crying.
Why this abundance of places? Why does day lock with day?
Why the dark night swilling around in our mouths?
And why the dead?

Should you ask me where I come from, I must talk
with broken things
with fairly painful utensils,
with great beasts turned to dust as often as not
and my afflicted heart.

These are not memories that have passed each other
nor the yellowing pigeon in our forgetting;
these are tearful faces
and fingers down our throats
and whatever among leaves may fall to the ground:
the dark of a day gone by
grown fat on our grieving blood.

Here are violets, and here swallows,
all things we love and which inform
sweet messages seriatim
through which time passes and sweetness passes.

We don't get far, though, beyond these teeth:
Why waste time gnawing at the husks of silence?
I know not what to answer:
There are so many dead,
and so many dikes the red sun breached,
and so many heads battering hulls
and so many hands that have closed over kisses
and so many things that I want to forget.


Anonymous said...

hey, I am also a very, very big fan of Neruda's poetry, as well as a native spanish speaker. Since you are such a fan I thought you might want to know that the translation you posted is not very good one, a lot of the language that made him such a good poet is lost with the overly simplistic word choices. Also some words were translated either too literaly or incorrectly, changing the meaning of certain lines and the overall feel of the poem. Check out the this book, "The Essential Neruda", almost every poem included there, including the one you posted, is very well translated, with the original spanish version next to it. Although the differences may seem slight to a random reader, a person who truly loves and appreciates Neruda's work, as I am sure you do, will be better able to appreciate the value of a proper translation.

Anonymous said...

if there is any Pablo Neruda collectors reading this i have stumbled across a signed and hand written poem of his called there's no forgetting (sonata)but one thing is this looks to be different then the one i am finding on the net it looks like he had changed alot of the words around and left some out if u can shine some light on this get ahold of me