By Pablo Neruda
I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.
Pablo Neruda, “One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII” from The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems, edited by Mark Eisner. Copyright © 2004 City Lights Books.
Source: The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems (City Lights Books, 2004)
Born Ricardo Eliezer Neftali Reyes y Basoalto, Pablo Neruda adopted the pseudonym under which he would become famous while still in his early teens. He grew up in Temuco in the backwoods of southern Chile. Neruda is considered one of the greatest and most influential poets of the twentieth century. His work has been translated into dozens of languages.
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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,
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It’s true: I almost never
smile, but that doesn’t mean
I’m not in love: my heart
is that black violin
played slowly. You know that
moment late in the solo
when the voice
is so pure you feel
the blood in it: the wound
and complete surrender. That’s
Some people say the devil is beating
his wife. Some people say the devil
is pawing his wife. Some people say
the devil is doubling down on an overall
attitude of entitlement toward
the body of his wife. Some people
say the devil won’t need to...
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Back Up Quick They’re Hippies
That was the year we drove
into the commune in Cornwall.
“Jesus Jim,” mam said,
“back up quick they’re hippies.”
Through the car window,
tents, row after row, flaps open,
long-haired men and women
curled around each other like babies
and the babies themselves
wandered naked across the grass.
In the warmth of night I put feet to my plan: waited
for my brothers to sleep. They’d spent the day
sharpening their hooks, repairing the great net,
filling gourds with fresh water. They’d bundled
taro wrapped in leaves sitting below the cross seats.