Eyre Affairs

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"But not a matter one can comprehend..." ~ Jane Eyre

I am not at all fully coherent at three in the morning, though I suspect that was the hour that Pablo Neruda was his most eloquent. Trying to explain perceptions of poetry at that time a few weeks ago at that hour failed me; its always easier for me to pen my thoughts than to verbalize them.

Neruda is a poet I thought I knew. I have been reading his poems for the past fifteen years after seeing the film Il Postino. I have taught his poems, mainly his odes, to students. I even did a project in an MA poetry class on his works.

Within the past month, I realize that I never really knew him at all. Or at least I didnt really understand him. There are two collections of his that have been at my bedside of late: Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair and Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon. I am rereading poems I thought I knew, finding out that until this moment I never truly related to what Neruda expresses in his poems about passion in the depths of your soul, physical pleasure, and extreme vulnerability when it comes to love. All that I believed I understood I realize I did not comprehend. I feel like I am reading Neruda for the first time, the previous times perhaps being superficial relating to many of his stanzas. It is humbling on so many levels, and that is the beauty I find in reading his poems lately. I wish I spoke and read Spanish fluently, for I fear that sometimes his words get lost in translation, but I also trust the editors of these collections, because the words in English are...well...perfection.

My reading of Neruda has become so personal and private lately that I am not wanting to share the one that my soul relates to the most these days, and I probably never will here. Rather, I will share one, in both languages, that is first in his collection of love poems, always a favorite of mine, and certainly one I could see him writing in the early hours of the morning.

Body of a Woman
Body of a woman, white hills, white thighs,
You look like a world lying in surrender.
My rough peasant's body digs in you
And makes the son leap from the depth of the earth.

I was alone like a tunnel. The birds fled from me,
and night swamped me with its crushing invasion.
To survive myself I forged you like a weapon,
Like an arrow in my bow, like a stone in my sling.

But the hour of the vengeance falls, and I love you.
Body of skin, of moss, of avid and firm milk.
Oh the goblets of your breasts! Oh the eyes of absence!
Oh the roses of the pubis! Oh your slow and sad voice!

Body of my woman I will persist in your grace.
My thirst, my boundless desire, my shifting road!
Dark river beds where the eternal thirst flows,
and weariness follows, and the infinite ache.

Cuerpo de Mujer
Cuerpo de mujer, blancas colinas, muslos blancos,
te pareces al mundo en tu actitud de entrega.
Mi cuerpo de labriego salvaje te socava
y hace saltar el hijo del fondo de la tierra.
Fui solo como un túnel.
De mí huían los pájaros y en mí la noche entraba su invasión poderosa.
Para sobrevivirme te forjé como un arma,
como una flecha en mi arco, como una piedra en mi honda.
Pero cae la hora de la venganza,
y te amo.
Cuerpo de piel, de musgo, de leche ávida y firme.
Ah los vasos del pecho! Ah los ojos de ausencia!
Ah las rosas del pubis! Ah tu voz lenta y triste!
Cuerpo de mujer mía, persistiré en tu gracia.
Mi sed, mi ansia sin límite, mi camino indeciso!
Oscuros cauces donde la sed eterna sigue,
y la fatiga sigue, y el dolor infinito.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Aunty Belle said...

"To survive myself I forged you like a weapon"

Now THAT is a beautiful expression.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Barry said...

Is it so important to know him? Just enjoy the message :))

7:23 PM  
Blogger Jack of Cakes said...

A dios mio! Mucho caliente!!!

9:46 PM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

Hey...jes' checkin' in 'round here. Hope all is well, Puddin'.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Frumteacher said...

Thanks for sharing! Can you believe I didn't know him? How was your seder? We had a wonderful time, finished at 3:45 AM :-)

4:13 AM  
Blogger Frumteacher said...

Ps. Say hi to Lime if you two meet ;-)

4:13 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Absolutely beautiful poem. I had never heard of him until now. Thanks for sharing.

I have enlisted a Spanish-speaking friend to translate it for me... :)

Hope all is well, Amy! I have really missed reading your blog!

11:27 PM  

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