Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Pablo Neruda

FROM: THE HEIGHTS OF MACHU PICCHU

I

From air to air, as through an empty net, I made my way between streets and
atmosphere, offering, in the advent of autumn with its largess of leaves like
a shower of coins, and amid the sprouts of springtime, my greetings and
farewells to that which the greatest of loves places before us like a long
moon in a dropped glove.

(Days of the splendour of unrestrained bodies: steel reduced to the silence
of acid: nights unravelling to the last, uttermost particle: wounded stamens
of the nuptial homeland.)

Someone was waiting for me among the violins; someone who found a world like
a buried tower sinking its spiral form deeper than all the strident
sulphur-coloured leaves; and I thrust my hand deeper yet, turbulent and sweet,
a sword sheathed in meteorites, into the gold of geology, into the most
genital portion of the mundane.

I placed my forehead among the deep waves and descended: a drop in a
sulphurous peace; and like a blind man, returned to the jasmine in the garden
of humankind's wasted spring.


II

(...)

But I was unable to seize more than a hurried bouquet of faces, or masks,
like empty gold rings, like clothing scattered by a raging autumn wind that
has shaken the wretched tree of the frightened races.

There was no place for me to rest the hand, fluid as water surging from an
imprisoned spring or firm as a lump of coal or crystal, that could have
returned the warmth of my proferred hand.

What was humanity? Where in its idle chatter among shops and train whistles,
in which of its mechanical movements could one detect the indestructible,
the imperishable: life?


IV

(...)

I could not bring myself to love in each fellow being
that tree with its burden of small autumns
(its deaths of a thousand leaves),
its encumbrance of false deaths and resurrections,
without land, or abyss.
I wanted to swim in truly ample lives.
I wanted to swim in the wide mouths of rivers.

When, little by little, I was denied by men,
who closed their doors and ports to me,
so that the fountains of my hands would not touch
their wounded non-existence,
I started to go from street to street,
river to river, city to city, bed to bed,
travelling through the desert with my salt-caked mask.
And when I reached the last humiliated houses,
alone, without lamp, fire, bread or silence:
I rolled and fell, dying of my own death.

uit: DE HOOGTEN VAN MACHU PICCHU

I

Lucht in lucht uit, als leeggebleven vangnet
tussen de straten en de atmosfeer
zo ging ik, aankomend, en afscheid nemend
in de ophanden herfst, het losse kleingeld
van bladeren, en tussen lente en aren:
al wat de grootste liefde als uit een handschoen
die valt, ons toedeelt, als een lange maan.

(Dagen van volop verblindende glans in
stormtij van lijven: staal gesmeed tot
stilte van bijtzuur:
nachten ontrafeld tot het laatste meel:
aanval op meeldraden in bruidstijland).

En iemand die mij wachtte tussen de violen
ontdekte een wereld zoals een bedolven
toren die zijn spiraal begraven heeft
dieper dan alle rauwzwavelend blad.
Dieper: in ’t goud van de geologie,
zoals een zwaard gebed in meteoren
groef ik mijn woelige en zachte hand
in het geslachtrijkste van de aarde

Mijn voorhoofd legde ik aan de diepe golven,
als druppel sijpelde ik de zwavelrust door,
en als een blinde keerde ik weer tot de jasmijnen
van de vergooide lente van de mens.


II

(...)

Ik kon niets grijpen dan een tros gezichten, maskers,
plots uitgestort als ringen van voos goud,
als plunjes losse dochters van verwoede herfst
die de boom deed beven, de deerniswekkende,
van opgejaagde rassen in doodsangst.

Ik vond geen plek waarop mijn hand kon rusten,
niets wat stromend als water uit omsloten bron
of houvast als brok antraciet, kristal,
weer warmte gaf of kou aan mijn uitgestoken hand.

Wat was de mens? In welk deel van zijn wijdopen gesprek
tussen de winkels en het fluiten, in welke van al
zijn metalen bewegen,
leefde het onverwoestbare, het onvergankelijke, het leven?


IV

(...)

Niet in elk wezen kon ik een boom liefhebben
met op zijn rug een kleine herfst (de dood van duizend bladeren),
al de vervalste sterfgevallen en opstandingen
zonder aarde, zonder afgrond:
zwemmen wilde ik in de wijdste levens,
de ongebreidelste mondingen van stroom,
en toen de mens mij stilaan ging buitensluiten
en deur en drempel weigerde opdat mijn handen
afbleven van zijn zwaargewonde niet-zijn,
ben ik gegaan door straat na straat en stroom na stroom,
En stad na stad en bed na bed,
en ging mijn brakke masker dwars door de woestijn,
en in de vertrapte huizen zonder lamp of vuur,
noch brood, noch steen, noch stilte, alleen,
zwierf ik en stierf ik aan mijn eigen dood.

DE: ALTURAS DE MACHU PICCHU

I

Del aire al aire, como una red vacía,
iba yo entre las calles y la atmósfera, llegando y despidiendo,
en el advenimiento del otoño la moneda extendida
de las hojas, y entre la primavera y las espigas,
lo que el más grande amor, como dentro de un guante
que cae, nos entrega como una larga luna.

(Días de fulgor vivo en la intemperie
de los cuerpos: aceros convertidos
al silencio del ácido:
noches deshilachadas hasta la última harina:
estambres agredidos de la patria nupcial.)

Alguien que me esperó entre los violines
encontró un mundo como una torre enterrada
hundiendo su espiral más abajo de todas
las hojas de color de ronco azufre:
más abajo, en el oro de la geología,
como una espada envuelta en meteoros,
hundí la mano turbulenta y dulce en lo más genital de lo terrestre.

Puse la frente ente las olas profundas,
descendí como gota entre la paz sulfúrica,
y, como un ciego, regresé al jazmín
de la gastada primavera humana.


II

(...)

No pude asir sino un racimo de rostros o de máscaras
precipitadas, como anillos de oro vacío,
como ropas dispersas hijas de un otoño rabioso
que hiciera temblar el miserable árbol de las razas asustadas.

No tuve sitio donde descansar la mano
y que, corriente como agua de manatial encadenado,
o firme como grumo de antracita o cristal,
hubiera devuelto el calor o el frío de mi mano extendida.

Qué era el hombre? En qué parte de su conversación abierta
entre los almacenes y los silbidos, en cuál de sus movimientos metálicos
vivía lo indestructible, lo imperecedero, la vida?


IV

(...)

No pude amar en cada ser un árbol
con su pequeño otoño a cuestas (la muerte de mil hojas).
todas las falsas muertes y las resurrecciones
sin tierra, sin abismo:
quise nadar en las más anchas vidas,
en las más sueltas desembocaduras,
y cuando poco a poco el hombre fué negándome
y fue cerrando paso y puerta para que no tocaran
mis manos manantiales su inexistencia herida,
entonces fui por calle y calle y río y río,
y ciudad y ciudad y cama y cama,
y atravesó el desierto mi máscara salobre,
y en las últimas casas humilladas, sin lámpara, sin fuego,
sin pan, sin piedra, sin silencio, solo,
rodé muriendo de mi propia muerte.
Close

FROM: THE HEIGHTS OF MACHU PICCHU

I

From air to air, as through an empty net, I made my way between streets and
atmosphere, offering, in the advent of autumn with its largess of leaves like
a shower of coins, and amid the sprouts of springtime, my greetings and
farewells to that which the greatest of loves places before us like a long
moon in a dropped glove.

(Days of the splendour of unrestrained bodies: steel reduced to the silence
of acid: nights unravelling to the last, uttermost particle: wounded stamens
of the nuptial homeland.)

Someone was waiting for me among the violins; someone who found a world like
a buried tower sinking its spiral form deeper than all the strident
sulphur-coloured leaves; and I thrust my hand deeper yet, turbulent and sweet,
a sword sheathed in meteorites, into the gold of geology, into the most
genital portion of the mundane.

I placed my forehead among the deep waves and descended: a drop in a
sulphurous peace; and like a blind man, returned to the jasmine in the garden
of humankind's wasted spring.


II

(...)

But I was unable to seize more than a hurried bouquet of faces, or masks,
like empty gold rings, like clothing scattered by a raging autumn wind that
has shaken the wretched tree of the frightened races.

There was no place for me to rest the hand, fluid as water surging from an
imprisoned spring or firm as a lump of coal or crystal, that could have
returned the warmth of my proferred hand.

What was humanity? Where in its idle chatter among shops and train whistles,
in which of its mechanical movements could one detect the indestructible,
the imperishable: life?


IV

(...)

I could not bring myself to love in each fellow being
that tree with its burden of small autumns
(its deaths of a thousand leaves),
its encumbrance of false deaths and resurrections,
without land, or abyss.
I wanted to swim in truly ample lives.
I wanted to swim in the wide mouths of rivers.

When, little by little, I was denied by men,
who closed their doors and ports to me,
so that the fountains of my hands would not touch
their wounded non-existence,
I started to go from street to street,
river to river, city to city, bed to bed,
travelling through the desert with my salt-caked mask.
And when I reached the last humiliated houses,
alone, without lamp, fire, bread or silence:
I rolled and fell, dying of my own death.

FROM: THE HEIGHTS OF MACHU PICCHU

I

From air to air, as through an empty net, I made my way between streets and
atmosphere, offering, in the advent of autumn with its largess of leaves like
a shower of coins, and amid the sprouts of springtime, my greetings and
farewells to that which the greatest of loves places before us like a long
moon in a dropped glove.

(Days of the splendour of unrestrained bodies: steel reduced to the silence
of acid: nights unravelling to the last, uttermost particle: wounded stamens
of the nuptial homeland.)

Someone was waiting for me among the violins; someone who found a world like
a buried tower sinking its spiral form deeper than all the strident
sulphur-coloured leaves; and I thrust my hand deeper yet, turbulent and sweet,
a sword sheathed in meteorites, into the gold of geology, into the most
genital portion of the mundane.

I placed my forehead among the deep waves and descended: a drop in a
sulphurous peace; and like a blind man, returned to the jasmine in the garden
of humankind's wasted spring.


II

(...)

But I was unable to seize more than a hurried bouquet of faces, or masks,
like empty gold rings, like clothing scattered by a raging autumn wind that
has shaken the wretched tree of the frightened races.

There was no place for me to rest the hand, fluid as water surging from an
imprisoned spring or firm as a lump of coal or crystal, that could have
returned the warmth of my proferred hand.

What was humanity? Where in its idle chatter among shops and train whistles,
in which of its mechanical movements could one detect the indestructible,
the imperishable: life?


IV

(...)

I could not bring myself to love in each fellow being
that tree with its burden of small autumns
(its deaths of a thousand leaves),
its encumbrance of false deaths and resurrections,
without land, or abyss.
I wanted to swim in truly ample lives.
I wanted to swim in the wide mouths of rivers.

When, little by little, I was denied by men,
who closed their doors and ports to me,
so that the fountains of my hands would not touch
their wounded non-existence,
I started to go from street to street,
river to river, city to city, bed to bed,
travelling through the desert with my salt-caked mask.
And when I reached the last humiliated houses,
alone, without lamp, fire, bread or silence:
I rolled and fell, dying of my own death.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
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