Monday, November 12, 2018

Love in Words

Let me just say that I love Pablo Neruda. When I think of what it takes to be a poet, his work provides the standard: a certain freshness that's drawn from the stuff of everyday life, the ability to juxtapose words and concepts in a way that illuminates both, a talent for expressing the inexpressible.

The poems in 100 Love Sonnets are dedicated to his wife Matilde Urrutia de Neruda, printed in translation with the original Spanish on the left page and English on the right, and 14 lines each, though without rhymes.

To say they are love sonnets is to say that water is damp. Adoration is more like it. A deluge of devotion. And yet, again: fresh, vibrant, never cloying in the moon/June/ love/dove poetic tradition.

He will always be part of my library. Yours, too, if you're wise.

Excerpt: (two, because Neruda is so wonderful)


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.   


Among the broadswords of literary iron
I wander like a foreign sailor, who does not know
the streets, or their angles, and who sings because
that's how it is, because if not for that what else is there?

From the stormy archipelagoes I brought
my windy accordion, waves of crazy rain,
the habitual slowness of natural things:
they made up my wild heart.

And so when the sharp little teeth of Literature
snapped at my honest heels, I passed along
unsuspectingly, singing with the wind,

toward the rainy dockyards of my childhood,
toward the cool forests of the indefinable South,
toward where my heart was filled with your fragrance.

Note: I've had this book in my library for a very long time, but I read it cover to cover for the Birth Year Reading Challenge. I'm also counting it in the Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

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