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Love Sonnet VI

Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig

and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips:

maybe it was the voice of the rain crying,

a cracked bell, or a torn heart.

Something from far off: it seemed

deep and secret to me, hidden by the earth,

a shout muffled by huge autumns,

by the moist half-open darkness of the leaves.

Wakening from the dreaming forest there, the hazel-sprig

sang under my tongue, its drifting fragrance

climbed up through my conscious mind

as if suddenly the roots I had left behind

cried out to me, the land I had lost with my childhood—

and I stopped, wounded by the wandering scent.

Love Sonnet XI

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.

Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.

Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day

I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,

your hands the color of a savage harvest,

hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,

I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,

the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,

I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,

hunting for you, for your hot heart,

like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

Soneto XII

Plena mujer, manzana carnal, luna caliente,

espeso aroma de algas, lodo y luz machacados,

qué oscura claridad se abre entre tus columnas?

Qué antigua noche el hombre toca con sus sentidos?

Ay, amar es un viaje con agua y con estrellas,

con aire ahogado y bruscas tempestades de harina:

amar es un combate de relámpagos

y dos cuerpos por una sola miel derrotados.

Beso a beso recorro tu pequeño infinito,

tus márgenes, tus ríos, tus pueblos diminutos,

y el fuego genital transformado en delicia

corre por los delgados caminos de la sangre

hasta precipitarse como un clavel nocturno,

hasta ser y no ser sino un rayo en la sombra.

Love Sonnet XII

Full woman, fleshly apple, hot moon,

thick smell of seaweed, crushed mud and light,

what obscure brilliance opens between your columns?

What ancient night does a man touch with his senses?

Loving is a journey with water and with stars,

with smothered air and abrupt storms of flour:

loving is a clash of lightning-bolts

and two bodies defeated by a single drop of honey.

Kiss by kiss I move across your small infinity,

your borders, your rivers, your tiny villages,

and the genital fire transformed into delight

runs through the narrow pathways of the blood

until it plunges down, like a dark carnation,

until it is and is no more than a flash in the night.

translation Stephen MITCHELL

Soneto XVI

Amo el trozo de tierra que tú eres,
porque de las praderas planetarias
otra estrella no tengo. Tú repites
la multiplicación del universo.

Tus anchos ojos son la luz que tengo
de las constelaciones derrotadas,
tu piel palpita como los caminos
que recorre en la lluvia el meteoro.

De tanta luna fueron para mí tus caderas,
de todo el sol tu boca profunda y su delicia,
de tanta luz ardiente como miel en la sombra

tu corazón quemado por largos rayos rojos,
y así recorro el fuego de tu forma besándote,
pequena y planetaria, paloma y geografía.

Love Sonnet XVI

I love the handful of the earth you are.
Because of its meadows, vast as a planet,
I have no other star. You are my replica
of the multiplying universe.

Your wide eyes are the only light I know
from extinguished constellations;
your skin throbs like the streak
of a meteor through rain.

Your hips were that much of the moon for me;
your deep mouth and its delights, that much sun;
your heart, fiery with its long red rays,

was that much ardent light, like honey in the shade.
So I pass across your burning form, kissing
you - compact and planetary, my dove, my globe.

Translation : TAPSCOTT, Stephen

Love Sonnet XVII

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.

Love Sonnet XX - Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example,'The night is shattered

and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms

I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.

How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.

And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.

The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.

My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.

My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.

We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.

My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.

Her voide. Her bright body. Her inifinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms

my sould is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer

and these the last verses that I write for her .

Sonnet LVIII

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 in 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.

Love Sonnet LXXXI - And Now You're Mine

And now you're mine. Rest with your dream in my dream.

Love and pain and work should all sleep, now.

The night turns on its invisible wheels,

and you are pure beside me as a sleeping amber.

No one else, Love, will sleep in my dreams. You will go,

we will go together, over the waters of time.

No one else will travel through the shadows with me,

only you, evergreen, ever sun, ever moon.

Your hands have already opened their delicate fists

and let their soft drifting signs drop away; your eyes closed like two gray

wings, and I move

after, following the folding water you carry, that carries

me away. The night, the world, the wind spin out their destiny.

Without you, I am your dream, only that, and that is all.


Cuando yo muera quiero tus manos en mis ojos:

quiero la luz y el trigo de tus manos amadas

pasar una vez más sobre mì su frescura:

sentir la suavidad que cambià? mi destino.

Quiero que vivas mientras yo, dormido, te espero,

quiero que tus oìdos sigan oyendo el viento,

que huelas el aroma del mar que amamos juntos

y que sigas pisando la arena que pisamos.

Quiero que lo que amo siga vivo

y a ti te amé y canté sobre todas las cosas,

por eso sigue tú floreciendo, florida,

para que alcances todo lo que mi amor te ordena,

para que se pasee mi sombra por tu pelo,

para que asì conozcan la razà?n de mi canto.

Love Sonnet LXXXIX

When I die, I want your hands on my eyes:

I want the light and the wheat of your beloved hands

to pass their freshness over me once more:

I want to feel the softness that changed my destiny.

I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep.

I want your ears still to hear the wind, I want you

to sniff the sea's aroma that we loved together,

to continue to walk on the sand we walk on.

I want what I love to continue to live,

and you whom I love and sang above everything else

to continue to flourish, full-flowered:

so that you can reach everything my love directs you to,

so that my shadow can travel along in your hair,

so that everything can learn the reason for my song.


‘k Wil als ik sterf jouw handen op mijn ogen: het licht en ‘t graan van jouw geliefde handen,

hun frisheid nog eens langs mij voelen strijken:

de zachtheid voelen die mijn leven wendde.

‘k Wil dat jij leeft terwijl ik, slapend, wacht,

dat je de wind blijft horen in je oren,

de zee blijft ruiken die ons beiden lief is,

het zand dat wij betraden blijft betreden.

‘k Wil dat al wat ik liefheb voort blijft leven,

jou had ik lief, bezong ik boven alles,

blijf jij daarom in bloei, mijn bloeiende,

opdat je wat mijn liefde wil, bereikt,

opdat mijn schaduw door je haren wandelt,

opdat men zo de grond kent van mijn zang.

Vert. Catharina Blaauwendraad

Nothing But Death

There are cemeteries that are lonely,

graves full of bones that do not make a sound,

the heart moving through a tunnel,

in it darkness, darkness, darkness,

like a shipwreck we die going into ourselves,

as though we were drowning inside our hearts,

as though we lived falling out of the skin into the soul.

And there are corpses,

feet made of cold and sticky clay,

death is inside the bones,

like a barking where there are no dogs,

coming out from bells somewhere, from graves somewhere,

growing in the damp air like tears of rain.

Sometimes I see alone

coffins under sail,

embarking with the pale dead, with women that have dead hair,

with bakers who are as white as angels,

and pensive young girls married to notary publics,

caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead,

the river of dark purple,

moving upstream with sails filled out by the sound of death,

filled by the sound of death which is silence.

Death arrives among all that sound

like a shoe with no foot in it, like a suit with no man in it,

comes and knocks, using a ring with no stone in it, with no

finger in it,

comes and shouts with no mouth, with no tongue, with no


Nevertheless its steps can be heard

and its clothing makes a hushed sound, like a tree.

I'm not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,

but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,

of violets that are at home in the earth,

because the face of death is green,

and the look death gives is green,

with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf

and the somber color of embittered winter.

But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom,

lapping the floor, looking for dead bodies,

death is inside the broom,

the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses,

it is the needle of death looking for thread.

Death is inside the folding cots:

it spends its life sleeping on the slow mattresses,

in the black blankets, and suddenly breathes out:

it blows out a mournful sound that swells the sheets,

and the beds go sailing toward a port

where death is waiting, dressed like an admiral.

I Like For You To Be Still

I like for you to be still

It is as though you are absent

And you hear me from far away

And my voice does not touch you

It seems as though your eyes had flown away

And it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth

As all things are filled with my soul

You emerge from the things

Filled with my soul

You are like my soul

A butterfly of dream

And you are like the word: Melancholy

I like for you to be still

And you seem far away

It sounds as though you are lamenting

A butterfly cooing like a dove

And you hear me from far away

And my voice does not reach you

Let me come to be still in your silence

And let me talk to you with your silence

That is bright as a lamp

Simple, as a ring

You are like the night

With its stillness and constellations

Your silence is that of a star

As remote and candid

I like for you to be still

It is as though you are absent

Distant and full of sorrow

So you would've died

One word then, One smile is enough

And I'm happy;

Happy that it's not true


If you find on some road

a little boy

stealing apples

and a deaf old man

with an accordion,

remember that I am

the little boy, the apples and the aged man.


Die Slowly

He who does not travel,
who does not read,
who does not listen to music,
who does not find grace in himself, dies slowly.

He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem,
who does not allow himself to be helped,
who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck,
about the rain that never stops, dies slowly.

He who becomes the slave of habit,
who follows the same routes every day,
who never changes pace,
who does not risk and change the colour of his clothes,
who does not speak and does not experience, dies slowly.

He or she who shuns passion,
who prefers black on white,
dotting ones rather than a bundle of emotions,
the kind that make your eyes glimmer,
that turn a yawn into a smile,
that make the heart pound in the face of mistakes and feelings, dies slowly.

He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy,
who is unhappy at work,
who does not risk certainty for uncertainty,
to thus follow a dream,
those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives, die slowly.

He or she who abandon a project before starting it,
who fail to ask questions on subjects he doesn’t know,
he or she who don’t reply when they are asked something they do know, die slowly.

Let’s try and avoid death in small doses,
always reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort by far
greater than the simple fact of breathing.
Only a burning patience will lead to the attainment of a splendid happiness.

A Song Of Despair -

The memory of you emerges from the night around me.

The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.

It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.

Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.

In you the wars and the flights accumulated.

From you the wings of the song birds rose.

You swallowed everything, like distance.

Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.

The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.

Pilot's dread, fury of blind driver,

turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!

In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.

Lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,

sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!

I made the wall of shadow draw back,

beyond desire and act, I walked on.

Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost,

I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.

Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness.

and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.

There was the black solitude of the islands,

and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.

There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.

There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.

Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me

in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms!

How terrible and brief my desire was to you!

How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.

Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs,

still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.

Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs,

oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.

Oh the mad coupling of hope and force

in which we merged and despaired.

And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.

And the word scarcely begun on the lips.

This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my longing,

and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank!

Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you,

what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned!

From billow to billow you still called and sang.

Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.

You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents.

Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.

Pale blind diver, luckless slinger,

lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour

which the night fastens to all the timetables.

The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.

Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.

Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.

Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.

It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!

Si tu me olvidas

Quiero que sepas
una cosa.

Tú sabes cómo es esto:
si miro
la luna de cristal, la rama roja
del lento otoño en mi ventana,
si toco
junto al fuego
la impalpable ceniza
o el arrugado cuerpo de la leña,
todo me lleva a ti,
como si todo lo que existe,
aromas, luz, metales,
fueran pequeños barcos que navegan
hacia las islas tuyas que me aguardan.

Ahora bien,
si poco a poco dejas de quererme
dejaré de quererte poco a poco.

Si de pronto
me olvidas
no me busques,
que ya te habré olvidado.

Si consideras largo y loco
el viento de banderas
que pasa por mi vida
y te decides
a dejarme a la orilla
del corazón en que tengo raíces,
que en ese día,
a esa hora
levantaré los brazos
y saldrán mis raíces
a buscar otra tierra.

si cada día,
cada hora
sientes que a mí estás destinada
con dulzura implacable.
Si cada día sube
una flor a tus labios a buscarme,
ay amor mío, ay mía,
en mí todo ese fuego se repite,
en mí nada se apaga ni se olvida,
mi amor se nutre de tu amor, amada,
y mientras vivas estará en tus brazos
sin salir de los míos.

If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Mocht je me vergeten

Mocht je me vergeten
wil ik dat
je één ding weet:

Als ik kijk naar de kristalmaan,
de rode tak van trage herfst
bij mijn raam,
als ik, bij het vuur gezeten,
de ongrijpbare as neem
of rimpelig lijf van brandhout,
weet je,
dat alles mij tot jou voert,
alsof alles wat bestaat,
geuren, licht, metalen,
scheepjes zijn die varen
naar jouw eilanden
die me verwachten.

Welnu dan,
als beetje bij beetje
jouw liefde voor mij minder wordt,
zal beetje bij beetje
mijn liefde voor jou minder worden.

Als je me plotseling vergeet,
zoek me niet,
want ik zal je reeds vergeten zijn.

Als je de wind van vlaggen
die door mijn leven waait
waanzinnig en lang vindt,
en je besluit
me aan de oever te laten
van het hart waarin ik wortel
dat op die dag, op dat uur,
ik mijn armen op zal heffen,
dat mijn wortels naar buiten komen
om andere grond te zoeken.

Maar als je dag na dag,
uur na uur, voelt
- onverzoenlijk lief -
dat je voor mij bestemd bent,
als, dag na dag, een bloem
aan je lippen ontstijgt
om mij te zoeken,
ach dan, allerliefste,
komt dat vuur weer in mij op,
in mij blust niets
of wordt vergeten,
mijn liefde voedt zich
aan jouw liefde:

zolang je leeft
zal mijn liefde
in jouw armen zijn
zonder mijn armen
te verlaten.

Vertaling: Catharina BLAAUWENDRAAD

Cada dia Matilde

Hoy a ti: larga eres
como el cuerpo de Chile, y delicada
como una flor de anís,
y en cada rama guardas testimonio
de nuestras indelebles primaveras:
Qué día es hoy? Tu día.
Y mañana es ayer, no ha sucedido,
no se fue ningún día de tus manos:
guardas el sol, la tierra, las violetas
en tu pequeña sombra cuando duermes.
Y así cada mañana
me regalas la vida.

Every Day, Matilde

Today, I dedicate this to you: you are long
like the body of Chile, delicate
like an anise flower,
and in every branch you bear witness
to our indelible springtimes:
What day is today? Your day.
And tomorrow is yesterday, it has not passed,
the day never slipped from your hands:
you guard the sun, the earth, the violets
in your slender shadow when you sleep.
And in this way, every morning
you give me life.

Elke dag Matilde

Vandaag aan jou: je bent lang

als het lijf van Chili, en teer

als een anijsboom,

en in elke tak hangt je getuigenis

van onze onuitwisbare lentes:

Welke dag is het vandaag? Jouw dag.

En morgen is gisteren, niets is voorbij,

geen enkele dag ontglipte je handen:

je vangt de zon, de aarde, de viooltjes

in je kleine schaduw als je slaapt.

En zo schenk je me

het leven elke dag

Vertaling : Z. DE MEESTER

Oda a la tristeza

Tristeza, escarabajo

de siete patas rotas,

huevo de telaraña,

rata descalabrada,

esqueleto de perra:

Aquí no entras.

No pasas.



al Sur con tu paraguas,


al Norte con tus dientes de culebra.

Aquí vive un poeta.

La tristeza no puede

entrar por estas puertas.

Por las ventanas

entra el aire del mundo,

las rojas rosas nuevas,

las banderas bordadas

del pueblo y sus victorias.

No puedes.

Aquí no entras.


tus alas de murciélago,

yo pisaré las plumas

que caen de tu manto,

yo barreré los trozos

de tu cadáver hacia

las cuatro puntas del viento,

yo te torceré el cuello,

te coseré los ojos,

cortaré tu mortaja

y enterraré tus huesos roedores

bajo la primavera de un manzano.

Ode to Sadness

Sadness, scarab
with seven crippled feet,
spiderweb egg,
scramble-brained rat,
bitch's skeleton:
No entry here.
Don't come in.
Go away.
Go back
south with your umbrella,
go back
north with your serpent's teeth.
A poet lives here.
No sadness may
cross this threshold.
Through these windows
comes the breath of the world,
fresh red roses,
flags embroidered with
the victories of the people.
No entry.
your bat's wings,
I will trample the feathers
that fall from your mantle,
I will sweep the bits and pieces
of your carcass to
the four corners of the wind,
I will wring your neck,
I will stitch your eyelids shut,
I will sew your shroud,
sadness, and bury your rodent bones
beneath the springtime of an apple tree.

Ode aan de triestheid

Triestheid, mestkever

met je zeven manke poten,

ei van spinrag,

gewonde rat,


hier kom je niet binnen.

Hier kom je niet voorbij.

Hoepel maar op.

Ga terug naar het zuiden

met je parapluutje,

ga terug naar het noorden

met je slangentanden.

Hier woont een dichter.

De triestheid kan niet naar binnen

door deze deuren.

Door de ramen komt de adem

van de wereld,

frisse rode rozen,

geborduurde vaandels van het volk

en zijn zegepralen.

Nee. Onmogelijk.

Hier kom je niet binnen.


je vleermuizenvleugels,

ik zal de veren vertrappen

die uit je mantel vallen,

ik zal de stukken van je karkas


naar alle vier de windstreken,

ik zal je nek omdraaien,

je ogen dichtnaaien,

je doodskleed stuksnijden

en, triestheid, je knagende botten

begraaf ik

onder de lente van een appelboom.

Canto general

Canto IX

PAZ para los crepúsculos que vienen,
paz para el puente, paz para el vino,
paz para las letras que me buscan
y que en mi sangre suben enredando
el viejo canto con tierra y amores,
paz para la ciudad en la mañana
cuando despierta el pan, paz para el río
Mississippi, río de las raíces:
paz para la camisa de mi hermano,
paz en el libro como un sello de aire,
paz para el gran koljós de Kíev,
paz para las cenizas de estos muertos
y de estos otros muertos, paz para el hierro
negro de Brooklyn, paz para el cartero
de casa en casa como el dia,
paz para el coreógrafo que grita
con un embudo a las enredaderas,
paz para mi mano derecha,
que sólo quiere escribir Rosario:
paz para el boliviano secreto
como una piedra de estaño, paz
para que tú te cases, paz para todos
los aserraderos de Bío Bío,
paz para el corazón desgarrado
de España guerrillera:
paz para el pequeño Museo de Wyoming
en donde lo más dulce
es una almohada con un corazón bordado,
paz para el panadero y sus amores
y paz para la harina: paz
para todo el trigo que debe nacer,
para todo el amor que buscará follaje,
paz para todos los que viven: paz
para todas las tierras y las aguas.

Yo aquí me despido, vuelvo
a mi casa, en mis sueños,
vuelvo a la Patagonia en donde
el viento golpea los establos
y salpica hielo el Océano.
Soy nada más que un poeta: os amo a todos,
ando errante por el mundo que amo:
en mi patria encarcelan mineros
y los soldados mandan a los jueces.
Pero yo amo hasta las raíces
de mi pequeño país frío.
Si tuviera que morir mil veces
allí quiero morir:
si tuviera que nacer mil veces
allí quiero nacer,
cerca de la araucaria salvaje,
del vendaval del viento sur,
de las campanas recién compradas.
Que nadie piense en mí.
Pensemos en toda la tierra,
golpeando con amor en la mesa.
No quiero que vuelva la sangre
a empapar el pan, los frijoles,
la música: quiero que venga
conmigo el minero, la niña,
el abogado, el marinero,
el fabricante de muñecas,
que entremos al cine y salgamos
a beber el vino más rojo.

Yo no vengo a resolver nada.

Yo vine aquí para cantar
y para que cantes conmigo.

Peace for the twilights to come,

peace for the bridge, peace for the wine,

peace for the stanzas which pursue me

and in my blood uprise entangling

my earlier songs with earth and loves,

peace for the city in the morning

when bread wakes up, peace for the Mississippi,

source of rivers,

peace for my brother’s shirt,

peace for books like a seal of air,

peace for the great kolkhoz of Kiev,

peace for the ashes of those dead

and of these other dead, peace for the grimy

iron of Brooklyn, peace for the letter-carrier

who from house to house goes like the day,

peace for the choreographer who shouts

through a funnel to the honeysuckle vine,

peace for my own right hand

that wants to write only Rosario,

peace for the Bolivian, secretive

as a lump of tin, peace

so that you may marry, peace for all

the saw-mills of Bio-Bio,

peace for the torn heart

of guerilla Spain,

peace for the little museum in Wyoming

where the most lovely thing

is a pillow embroidered with a heart,

peace for the baker and his loaves,

and peace for the flour, peace

for all the wheat to be born,

for all the love which will seek its tasselled shelter,

peace for all those alive: peace

for all lands and all waters.

Here I say farewell, I return

to my house, in my dreams

I return to Patagonia where

the wind rattles the barns

and the ocean spatters ice.

I am nothing more than a poet: I love all of you,

I wander about the world I love;

in my country they gaol miners

and soldiers give orders to judges.

But I love even the roots

in my small cold country,

if I had to die a thousand times over

it is there I would die,

if I had to be born a thousand times over

it is there I would be born

near the tall wild pines

the tempestuous south wind

the newly purchased bells.

Let none think of me.

Let us think of the entire earth

and pound the table with love.

I don’t want blood again

to saturate bread, beans, music:

I wish they would come with me:

the miner, the little girl,

the lawyer, the seaman,

the doll-maker,

to go into a movie and come out

to drink the reddest wine.

I did not come to solve anything.

I came here to sing

and for you to sing with me.

Translation WALDEEN

Tu risa

Quítame el pan si quieres,
quítame el aire, pero
no me quites tu risa.

o me quites la rosa,
la lanza que desgranas,
el agua que de pronto
estalla en tu alegría,
la repentina ola
de planta que te nace.

Mi lucha es dura y vuelvo
con los ojos cansados
a veces de haber visto
la tierra que no cambia,
pero al entrar tu risa
sube al cielo buscándome
y abre para mí
todas las puertas de la vida.

Amor mío, en la hora
más oscura desgrana
tu risa, y si de pronto
ves que mi sangre mancha
las piedras de la calle,
ríe, porque tu risa
será para mis manos
como una espada fresca.

Junto al mar en otoño,
tu risa debe alzar
su cascada de espuma,
y en primavera, amor,
quiero tu risa como
la flor que yo esperaba,
la flor azul, la rosa
de mi patria sonora.

Ríete de la noche,
del día, de la luna,
ríete de las calles
torcidas de la isla,
ríete de este torpe
muchacho que te quiere,
pero cuando yo abro
los ojos y los cierro,
cuando mis pasos van,
cuando vuelven mis pasos,
niégame el pan, el aire,
la luz, la primavera,
pero tu risa nunca
porque me moriría.

Your Laughter

Take bread away from me, if you wish,

take air away, but

do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,

the lance flower that you pluck,

the water that suddenly

bursts forth in joy,

the sudden wave

of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back

with eyes tired

at times from having seen

the unchanging earth,

but when your laughter enters

it rises to the sky seeking me

and it opens for me all

the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest

hour your laughter

opens, and if suddenly

you see my blood staining

the stones of the street,

laugh, because your laughter

will be for my hands

like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,

your laughter must raise

its foamy cascade,

and in the spring, love,

I want your laughter like

the flower I was waiting for,

the blue flower, the rose

of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,

at the day, at the moon,

laugh at the twisted

streets of the island,

laugh at this clumsy

boy who loves you,

but when I open

my eyes and close them,

when my steps go,

when my steps return,

deny me bread, air,

light, spring,

but never your laughter

for I would die.

El monte y el rio

En mi patria hay un monte.

En mi patria hay un río.

Ven conmigo.

La noche al monte sube.

El hambre baja al río.

Ven conmigo.

Quiénes son los que sufren?

No sé, pero son míos.

Ven conmigo.

No sé, pero me llaman

y me dicen "Sufrimos".

Ven conmigo.

Y me dicen: "Tu pueblo,

tu pueblo desdichado,

entre el monte y el río,

con hambre y con dolores,

no quiere luchar solo,

te está esperando, amigo".

Oh tú, la que yo amo,

pequeña, grano rojo

de trigo,

será dura la lucha,

la vida será dura,

pero vendrás conmigo.

The Mountain and the River

In my country there is a mountain.

In my country there is a river.

Come with me.

Night rises up the mountain.

The faint longing down in the river.

Come with me.

Who are those who suffer?

I do not know, but they are mine.

Come with me.

I do not know, but they call me

and they say to me: “We suffer.”

Come with me.

And they say to me: “Your people,

your unlucky people,

between the mountain and the river,

with hunger and with pains,

they do not want to fight alone,

waiting for you, friend.”

Oh you, whom I love,

small, red grain

of wheat,

the struggle will be hard,

life will be hard,

but you will come with me.


I sing to the grass that is born with me

in this free moment, to the fermentations

of cheese, of vinegar, to the secret

spurt of the first semen, I sing

to the song of milk which now comes

in rising whiteness to the nipples,

I sing to the fertility of the stable,

to the fresh dung of great cows

from whose aroma fly multitudes

of blue wings, I speak

without any shift of what is happening now

to the bumblebee with its honey, to the lichen

in its soundless germination.

Like an everlasting drum

sounds the flow of succession, the course

from being to being, and I'm born, I'm born, I'm born

with all that is being born, I'm one

with growing, with the spread silence

of everything that surrounds me, teeming,

propagating itself in the dense damp,

in thread, in tigers, in jelly.

I belong to fruitfulness

and I'll grow while lives grow.

I'm young with the youthfulness of water,

I'm slow with the slowness of time,

I'm pure with the purity of air,

dark with the wine of night,

and I'll only be still when I've become

so mineral that I neither see nor hear,

nor take part in what is born and grows.

When I picked out the jungle

to learn how to be,

leaf by leaf,

I went on with my lessons

and learned to be root, deep clay,

voiceless earth, transparent night,

and beyond that, bit by bit, the whole jungle.

(translated by Alastair Reid)

Keeping Quiet

Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still

for once on the face of the earth,

let’s not speak in any language;

let’s stop for a second,

and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines;

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea

would not harm whales

and the man gathering salt

would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victories with no survivors,

would put on clean clothes

and walk about with their brothers

in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused

with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about;

I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.