from XI of The Heights of Macchu Picchu
by Pablo Neruda (trans. Nathaniel Tarn)
Through a confusion of splendor,
through a night made stone let me plunge my hand
and move to beat in me a bird held for a thousand years,
the old and unremembered human heart!
Today let me forget this happiness, wider than all the sea,
because man is wider than all the sea and her necklace
and we must fall into him as down a well to clamber back with
branches of secret water, recondite truths.
Allow me to forget, circumference of stone, the powerful
the transcendental span, the honeycomb's foundations,
and from the set-square allow my hand to slide
down a hypotenuse of hairshirt and salt blood.
. . .
Neruda's complete 12-part book-length poem, The Heights of Macchu Pichu: A Bilingual Edition is available online from various sellers .
Readers also may enjoy Neruda's "Triangles," translated by Jodey Bateman; the first stanza is offered below; the complete translation is available here.
Triangles by Pablo Neruda
Three triangles of birds crossed
Over the enormous ocean which extended
In winter like a green beast.
Everything just lay there, the silence,
The unfolding gray, the heavy light
Of space, some land now and then.
Over everything there was passing
And another flight
Of dark birds, winter bodies
Frantically flapping, hardly
Can carry the gray cold, the desolate days
From one place to another
Along the coast of Chile.
. . .
A tiny Neruda poem was posted in this blog on 30 August 2010.