Friday, August 1, 2014

Poetry Friday - Poem 20 by Pablo Neruda

 Today Poetry Friday is at Reflections on the Teche! Be sure to check out all the great poetry posts!

I'm working on revisions of my novel this week but I am also thinking about the characters in the novel I'm drafting this summer, too. It's hard to get characters out of my head when I'm writing. They stick in my head just as much as when I'm reading! The poem I'm sharing today is Poem 20 by Pablo Neruda because it reminds me of what my characters are experiencing in my new book. I wouldn't know of this poem if not for my husband and my grandmother.
We call her Mamita and she is an amazing woman. I've always looked up to her and her creativity. When I was young, she had games for us to play, riddles and jokes to tell us, wise sayings and advice. Growing up in Guatemala, she read all the children's books in her little local library that they let her read adult books...and she read all of those. I remember her constantly reciting poems and telling stories. She's a gem of a woman who I am so lucky to have as part of my life. When we were in college, my husband studied Spanish and had to memorize and recite Poema 20. When Mamita found out about this, she started reciting it for us from memory. It is so like her to know any poem or song and she even writes her own poetry. Pablo Neruda and Poem 20 will forever have a place in my heart because of the memory of the both of them recalling the words together. 

I wish this poem was a happier one but it's not. It is, however, a beautiful poem about love and a great mentor text as I think about how my main character might feel when her boyfriend betrays her the night before he leaves for college. Some of Neruda's poetry is super sensual but this poem isn't and I think it could be matched with Pam Munoz Ryan's historical fiction biography, The Dreamer as well as Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown. I have reviewed both The Dreamer and Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People as they are excellent mentor texts that capture the essence of Pablo Neruda, one of the most widely read poets in the world.
The word choice and descripion in this poem fascinates me but I also love how it captures just how complicated love can be. At the end, Neruda writes, "I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her." The narrator is completely sure he doesn't love her any more...but then there is a teeny possibility that he still does. I like that his determination comes back in the last two lines, 'Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer/ and these the last verses that I write for her." My heart breaks for him but also hopes he can move on in his life and it seems like he will.

Poema 20

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Escribir, por ejemplo: "La noche está estrellada,
y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos".
El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.
Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.
En las noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos.
La besé tantas veces bajo el cielo infinito.
Ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería.
Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos.
Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido.
Oír la noche inmensa, más inmensa sin ella.
Y el verso cae al alma como pasto el rocío.
Qué importa que mi amor no pudiera guardarla.
La noche está estrellada y ella no está conmigo.
Eso es todo. A lo lejos alguien canta. A lo lejos.
Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.
Como para acercarla mi mirada la busca.
Mi corazón la busca, y ella no está conmigo.
La misma noche que hace blanquear los mismos árboles.
Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos.
Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero cuánto la quise.
Mi voz buscaba el viento para tocar su oído.
De otro. Será de otro. Como antes de mis besos.
Su voz, su cuerpo claro. Sus ojos infinitos.
Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero.
Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido.
Porque en noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos,
mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.
Aunque éste sea el último dolor que ella me causa,
y éstos sean los últimos versos que yo le escribo. 

Poem 20

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example, "The night is starry
and the stars are blue and 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 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 starry 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 tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
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. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite 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 soul 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.

I'm curious to hear if you've ever read Poem 20 or have other poems 
by Pablo Neruda that you have read or enjoy! Thanks for sharing!

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