Poet's Choice

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Chilean Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), one of the world's most popular writers, found his gift early in his prolific career. Ilan Stavans has edited a new, bilingual selection of Neruda, as translated into English over the years by many hands. Among the poems that have influenced poets all over the world is "Tonight I Can Write," published when Neruda was in his 20s. The graceful, penetrating translation is by W. S. Merwin:

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.

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