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(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973 / Parral / Chile)

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Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu

Arise to birth with me, my brother.
Give me your hand out of the depths
sown by your sorrows.
You will not return from these stone fastnesses.
You will not emerge from subterranean time.
Your rasping voice will not come back,
nor your pierced eyes rise from their sockets.

Look at me from the depths of the earth,
tiller of fields, weaver, reticent shepherd,
groom of totemic guanacos,
mason high on your treacherous scaffolding,
iceman of Andean tears,
jeweler with crushed fingers,
farmer anxious among his seedlings,
potter wasted among his clays--
bring to the cup of this new life
your ancient buried sorrows.
Show me your blood and your furrow;
say to me: here I was scourged
because a gem was dull or because the earth
failed to give up in time its tithe of corn or stone.
Point out to me the rock on which you stumbled,
the wood they used to crucify your body.
Strike the old flints
to kindle ancient lamps, light up the whips
glued to your wounds throughout the centuries
and light the axes gleaming with your blood.

I come to speak for your dead mouths.

Throughout the earth
let dead lips congregate,
out of the depths spin this long night to me
as if I rode at anchor here with you.

And tell me everything, tell chain by chain,
and link by link, and step by step;
sharpen the knives you kept hidden away,
thrust them into my breast, into my hands,
like a torrent of sunbursts,
an Amazon of buried jaguars,
and leave me cry: hours, days and years,
blind ages, stellar centuries.

And give me silence, give me water, hope.

Give me the struggle, the iron, the volcanoes.

Let bodies cling like magnets to my body.

Come quickly to my veins and to my mouth.

Speak through my speech, and through my blood.

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003


Read poems about / on: brother, birth, silence, light, water, hope, time, night, sorrow, rose

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Comments about this poem (Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda )

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  • Jane Moon (3/26/2013 6:08:00 AM)

    Passionate testament to the ancient men of Macchu Picchu: the builders, the workers, those who struggled to till the fields and raise the animals, create the beautiful things of that ancient civilization and were the slaves. What a civilization rose and then vanished, only to be discovered in the jungles after centuries, the forbears of today's people. How I honor this poet and those ancient people!

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  • Mike Lince (3/5/2013 8:22:00 PM)

    This poem is so much more poetic in its original language, Spanish. To truly appreciate this poem, keep this translation on hand and read it in Spanish. Then you will grasp how truly lyrical this poem is.

  • * Sunprincess * (10/6/2012 9:38:00 PM)

    wow! I would love to visit Macchu Picchu someday..an excellent write.. :)

  • Liz Diskin (1/15/2009 11:54:00 AM)

    Thankyou so much for putting this up, I don't know if you translated it or not but it just made revising a bit easier! thanks!

  • Hugo Scornik (10/25/2006 5:34:00 PM)

    Very good translation that transmits very well the original's emotion. Who translated this?

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