Twenty Love Poems

A translation project

I translated five poems from Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair as a small exercise in November 2011, and four more as part of my Fun-A-Day project in January 2012. Afterward I decided to work on the remaining twelve poems, because how cool would it be to have translated an entire (very short) book.

As of February 2016, I have a full draft of the whole book. It's currently put aside so I can go over it with fresh eyes this fall, as well as write up some translation notes and maybe one or two essays. I envision the final product in the form of an awesome zine I won't be able to distribute.

This is a personal project and I don't have rights to publish anything. Here are some excerpts:

I. Body of a Woman // Cuerpo de mujer
Dark channels where eternal thirst courses,
and exhaustion courses, and infinite pain.

II. In Its Mortal Flame // II. En su llama mortal
Oh immense and fertile and magnetic slave
of the circle that turns through black and gold...

III. Oh Expanse of Pines // Ah vastedad de pinos
Oh your mysterious voice stained and bent by love
in the resonant, dying evening!
As in deep hours over the fields I've seen
heads of wheat bend in the mouth of the wind.

IV. The Morning is Full // Es la mañana llena
Rustling through the trees, orchestral, divine,
like a language full of war and song.

V. So You Will Hear Me // Para que tú me oigas
I'm stringing an infinite necklace of words
for your white hands, smooth like grapes.

VI. I Remember You the Way You Were // Te recuerdo como eras
...voice like a bird's and heart like a house
toward which my deepest longings moved
and the embers of my happy kisses fall.

VII. Leaning Out in the Evening // Inclinado en las tardes
There the corpse of my flailing, drowned solitude
is laid out and burned on the tallest of pyres.

VIII. White Bee // Abeja blanca
White bee, drunk with honey, you buzz in my soul
and dance in slow spirals of smoke.

IX. High on Turpentine // IX. Ebrio de trementina
lunar, solar, burning and cold, sudden,
asleep in the gorge of the blessed
islands, white and sweet as cool hips.

X. We Have Even Lost // X. Hemos perdido aun
Sometimes like a coin
a bit of sun shone in my hands.

XI. Almost Out of the Sky // XI. Casi fuera del cielo
Almost out of the sky, the middle of the moon
anchors between two mountains.

XII. For My Heart // Para mi corázon
I have said that you sang in the wind
like the masts and the pines.

XIII. I Have Gone Marking // XIII. He ido marcando
I have gone marking the atlas of your body
with crosess of fire.

XIV. Every Day You Play // Juegas todos los días
I've loved your sunned mother-of-pearl body for so long.

XV. I Like When You're Quiet // XV. Me gustas cuando callas
You're like the night, quiet and starry.
Yours is a star-silence, so far-off and clear.

XVI. In My Sky at Dusk // XVI. En mi cielo al crepúsculo
My heart's lamp pinkens your feet,
my tart wine is made sweeter on your lips...

XVIII. Thinking, Mistaking Shadows // XVII. Pensando, enredando sombras
Shout before the sea, among stones,
running free, crazy, in the ocean mist.

XVIII. I Love You Here // Aquí te amo
And how I love you, the pines in the wind,
want to sing your name with their wiry leaves.

XIX. Dark, Swift Girl // XIX. Niña morena y ágil
Dark butterfly, sweet definitive specimen
like the sun and the wheat fields, poppy and water.

XX. Tonight I Can Write // Puedo escribir
The same night. The same white light on the trees.
We are not the same as we were then.

The Song of Despair // La canción desesperada
You swallowed it all, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. Everything was shipwrecked in you!