Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Poem For Spring

One of my favorite places in San Francisco, The Red Poppy, has a mailing list that I've subscribed to for the past several years. Today I received this Pablo Neruda poem from them, and now I offer it to you.

A Poem for Spring

(Poem 14 from Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair)

Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and in the water.
You are more than this little white head I hold tightly
like a cluster of grapes between my hands every day.

You seem like no other since I've loved you.
Let me spread you out among yellow garlands.
Who writes your name in letters of smoke among the stars of the south?
Ah let me remember you as you were then, before you even existed.

Suddenly the wind howls and knocks against my shut window.
The sky is a net crammed with shadowed fish.
Here all the winds come to give, all of them.
The rain strips off her clothes.

The birds pass by, fleeing.
The wind. The wind.
I can only fight against the power of men.
The storm gathers dark leaves
and lets loose all the boats that last night were moored to the sky.

You are here. Ah, you don't flee.
You will answer me to the last cry.
Cling to my side as if you were scared.
But once a strange shadow ran through your eyes.

Now, now too, little one, you bring me honeysuckle,
and you're perfumed all the way to your breasts.
While the sad wind gallops killing butterflies
I love you, and my happiness bites your mouth plum.

How you must have hurt as you accustomed to me,
to my solitary and savage soul, to my name that drives everyone away.
We have seen the evening's first star burn so many times, kissing our eyes,
and over our heads the twilights untwist in revolving fans.

My words rained over you, caressing you.
I've loved your sunned, mother-of-pearl body ever since.
Until I believe you own the universe.
I will bring you elated mountain flowers, Chilean copihues,
dark hazelnuts, and rustic baskets of kisses.
I want to do with you
what spring does with the cherry trees.

translated and (c) Mark Eisner


Katia Shtefan said...

I love the storm imagery in this poem, especially the connection between sky and sea.

If you really like Neruda, check out Red Poppy at It's a non-profit set up to create a documentary about Neruda, publish his biography, and translate his works into English. To see our blog on Neruda’s literary activism, go to

KT said...

Yes, as you probably read, I got this poem from the mailing list I subscribe to from Red Poppy!