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

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From – Twenty Poems of Love

I can write the saddest lines tonight.

Write for example: ‘The night is fractured
and they shiver, blue, those stars, in the distance’

The night wind turns in the sky and sings.
I can write the saddest lines tonight.
I loved her, sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like these I held her in my arms.
I kissed her greatly under the infinite sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could I not have loved her huge, still eyes.

I can write the saddest lines tonight.
To think I don’t have her, to feel I have lost her.

Hear the vast night, vaster without her.
Lines fall on the soul like dew on the grass.

What does it matter that I couldn’t keep her.
The night is fractured and she is not with me.

That is all. Someone sings far off. Far off,
my soul is not content to have lost her.

As though to reach her, my sight looks for her.
My heart looks for her: she is not with me


The same night whitens, in the same branches.
We, from that time, we are not the same.

I don’t love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the breeze to reach her.

Another’s kisses on her, like my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body, infinite eyes.

I don’t love her, that’s certain, but perhaps I love her.
Love is brief: forgetting lasts so long.

Since, on these nights, I held her in my arms,
my soul is not content to have lost her.

Though this is the last pain she will make me suffer,
and these are the last lines I will write for her.

Submitted: Saturday, January 25, 2003


Read poems about / on: sometimes, lost, sky, night, pain, wind, love, kiss, star

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

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  • Proyon John Gomes (9/21/2013 1:29:00 AM)

    ''My voice tried to find the breeze to reach her'' -pain & love, equally expressed in this line.

    5 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Putul S (10/1/2009 5:08:00 AM)

    'love is brief; forgetting lasts so long'...beautifully expressed..

  • Viviana Canas (6/29/2009 2:21:00 PM)

    Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido.

    I love this poem Spanish, English, Italian version, It does not matter.

  • Li Away (10/26/2008 4:11:00 PM)

    How i love this poem?

  • J. Barrett Wolf (7/22/2008 7:20:00 AM)

    While this translation is not without merit, I am more fond of W.S. Merwin's translation of this poem - translation is more art than science and it is painful to read the work of some of the translators who altogether lack a poetic understanding of the 'victims' of their interpretation.
    Merwin translated 'Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair' and it far exceeds older interpretations of the great man's work.

  • Riel Tizzano (5/29/2008 11:44:00 AM)

    i love this poem but it's much better in it's original spanish

  • Liz Thaugally (4/7/2008 6:22:00 AM)

    Neruda- I salute you. this beautiful and certainly one of my favourite poems always struck a chord in my soul, but lately it has brought out a myriad of emotions which reflect my life at this very moment, it is liberating and also a great comfort to know that great poets like Neruda can be translated into any language- and still touch a deep place within your soul and give comfort and the feeling of universality years on.

  • ... ... (12/27/2007 1:46:00 PM)

    I can fall in love with this poem every time I read it. That's why Pablo is my idol, his writings are breathtaking. This is one of my favs, in Spanish, English, Italian, French, no matter which language is translated, his poems are fantastic.

  • Claudio Nunez (12/24/2007 9:49:00 PM)

    Hi dear people, even though I find this particular traslation of the poem to be very good there is one inconvenient, the word 'fractured' is a bad tranlation of the word 'estrellada', 'estrellada' means full of stars, though it is truth that it could be used in the other sense (fractured) 'estrellar' like 'crush' is not commonly used with this meaning at least not in Chile and most certainly not in poetry. so re-read the poem thinking that instead of fractured He means a starry night or a starry sky with all the nostalgy that this could evoke. I would not know the adequate translation for this use of the word being english not my first language but surely you will be able to think of a better one. Thanks. Claudio

  • john tiong chunghoo (12/23/2006 8:55:00 AM)

    there is just something in pablo that is so universal. you can be touched in whatever language he is translated to. perhaps, he because he wrote as he talked. the effect is instant. you do not have to consult the dictionary for difficult words. great write from a great poet.

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