Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Neruda Alert - La Chascona

Siew has some reminiscences of her visit to La Chascona - Pablo Neruda's house in Santiago - over at her terrific blog Writings Within the Margin. With pictures!

And isn't this the perfect excuse for some more of his poems? The translators this time are Robert Bly and one of my favorite poets - James Wright:

Melancholy Inside Families
I keep a blue bottle.
Inside it an ear and a portrait.
When the night dominates
the feathers of the owl,
when the hoarse cherry tree
rips out is lips and makes menacing gestures
with rinds which the ocean wind often perforates -
then I know that there are immense expanses hidden from us,
quartz in slugs,
blue waters for a battle,
much silence, many ore-veins
of withdrawals and camphor,
fallen things, medallions, kindnesses,
parachutes, kisses.

It is only the passage from one day to another,
a single bottle moving over the seas,
and a dining room where roses arrive,
a dining room deserted
as a fish-bone; I am speaking of
a smashed cup, a curtain, at the end
of a deserted room through which a river passes
dragging along the stones. It is a house
set on the foundations of the rain,
a house of two floors with the required number of windows,
and climbing vines faithful in every particular.

I walk through afternoons, I arrive
full of mud and death,
dragging along the earth and its roots,
and its indistinct stomach in which corpses
are sleeping with wheat,
metals, and pushed-over elephants.

But above all there is a terrifying,
a terrifying deserted dining room,
with its broken olive oil cruets,
and vinegar running under its chairs,
one ray of moonlight tied down,
something dark, and I look
for a comparison inside myself:
perhaps it is a grocery store surrounded by the sea
and torn clothing from which sea water is dripping.

It is only a deserted dining room,
and around it there are expanses,
sunken factories, pieces of timber
which I alone know,
because I am sad, and because I travel,
and I know the earth, and I am sad.

An odor like an acid sword made
of plum branches along the road,
the kisses like sugar in the teeth,
the drops of life slipping on the fingertips,
the sweet sexual fruit,
the yards, the haystacks, the inviting
rooms hidden in the deep houses,
the mattresses sleeping in the past, the savage green valley
seen from above, from the hidden window:
adolescence all sputtering and burning
like a lamp turned over in the rain.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post! Neruda is one of my all time favourite poets; you should try reading his work in Spanish - at least, I try! A gorgeous poet in a gorgeous language.

Ted said...

Most of the editions I own have both english and spanish, so I sometimes try to get the sound of it in my ear, even if I can't connect a lot of the meaning.