Pablo Neruda

(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973 / Parral)

A Song Of Despair

Poem by Pablo Neruda

The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.

In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.

You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.

Pilot's dread, fury of blind driver,
turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!

In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.
Lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,
sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!

I made the wall of shadow draw back,
beyond desire and act, I walked on.

Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost,
I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.

Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness.
and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.

There was the black solitude of the islands,
and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.

There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.

Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me
in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms!

How terrible and brief my desire was to you!
How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.

Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs,
still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.

Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs,
oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.

Oh the mad coupling of hope and force
in which we merged and despaired.

And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.
And the word scarcely begun on the lips.

This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my longing,
and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank!

Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you,
what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned!

From billow to billow you still called and sang.
Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.

You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents.
Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.

Pale blind diver, luckless slinger,
lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour
which the night fastens to all the timetables.

The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.

Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.

It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!

Comments about A Song Of Despair by Pablo Neruda

  • Kessa (11/6/2019 6:33:00 AM)

    A Waterfall of tears scapes through the windows of my soul. A heartwrenching poem but a must keep(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • pablo (2/26/2019 2:22:00 PM)

    si sabe como escribir muy buenas canciones o que dicien _ he knows how to write the best poems and song don't he(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • Unnikrishnan E S (10/8/2018 12:14:00 AM)

    If a translation is this sagacious and tormenting, what what would the original Spanish poem would do, If only I could read Spanish!(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • Leela chatterjee (7/11/2018 4:51:00 AM)

    A song of despair. He feels abandoned at the time of departure.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • Frank_Arado (5/3/2018 2:12:00 AM)

    You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents
    Its broke, you still broke the currents(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Fabrizio FrosiniFabrizio Frosini (11/25/2015 6:17:00 AM)

    I fell in love with this poem the very first time I read it, in my teens.. It was an Italian translation (a very good one, indeed) , but I was curious to 'feel' the musicality of the original text.. I was lucky and found the book '' Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada''.. wow.. in Spanish it is simply wonderful! And Neruda was barely 19 (or younger) when he wrote it!(Report)Reply

    11 person liked.
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  • Fabrizio FrosiniFabrizio Frosini (11/24/2015 3:38:00 AM)

    EMERGE tu recuerdo de la noche en que estoy.
    El río anuda al mar su lamento obstinado.

    Abandonado como los muelles en el alba.
    Es la hora de partir, oh abandonado!

    Sobre mi corazón llueven frías corolas.
    Oh sentina de escombros, feroz cueva de náufragos!

    En ti se acumularon las guerras y los vuelos.
    De ti alzaron las alas los pájaros del canto.

    Todo te lo tragaste, como la lejanía.
    Como el mar, como el tiempo. Todo en ti fue

    Era la alegre hora del asalto y el beso.
    La hora del estupor que ardía como un faro.

    Ansiedad de piloto, furia de buzo ciego,
    turbia embriaguez de amor, todo en ti fue naufragio!

    En la infancia de niebla mi alma alada y herida.
    Descubridor perdido, todo en ti fue naufragio!

    Te ceñiste al dolor, te agarraste al deseo.
    Te tumbó la tristeza, todo en ti fue naufragio!

    Hice retroceder la muralla de sombra,
    anduve más allá del deseo y del acto.

    Oh carne, carne mía, mujer que amé y perdí,
    a ti en esta hora húmeda, evoco y hago canto.

    Como un vaso albergaste la infinita ternura,
    y el infinito olvido te trizó como a un vaso.

    Era la negra, negra soledad de las islas,
    y allí, mujer de amor, me acogieron tus brazos.

    Era la sed y el hambre, y tú fuiste la fruta.
    Era el duelo y las ruinas, y tú fuiste el milagro.

    Ah mujer, no sé cómo pudiste contenerme
    en la tierra de tu alma, y en la cruz de tus brazos!

    Mi deseo de ti fue el más terrible y corto,
    el más revuelto y ebrio, el más tirante y ávido.

    Cementerio de besos, aún hay fuego en tus tumbas,
    aún los racimos arden picoteados de pájaros.

    Oh la boca mordida, oh los besados miembros,
    oh los hambrientos dientes, oh los cuerpos trenzados.

    Oh la cópula loca de esperanza y esfuerzo
    en que nos anudamos y nos desesperamos.

    Y la ternura, leve como el agua y la harina.
    Y la palabra apenas comenzada en los labios.

    Ése fue mi destino y en él viajó mi anhelo,
    y en él cayó mi anhelo, todo en ti fue naufragio!

    Oh sentina de escombros, en ti todo caía,
    qué dolor no exprimiste, qué olas no te ahogaron.

    De tumbo en tumbo aún llameaste y cantaste
    de pie como un marino en la proa de un barco.

    Aún floreciste en cantos, aún rompiste en corrientes.
    Oh sentina de escombros, pozo abierto y amargo.

    Pálido buzo ciego, desventurado hondero,
    descubridor perdido, todo en ti fue naufragio!

    Es la hora de partir, la dura y fría hora
    que la noche sujeta a todo horario.

    El cinturón ruidoso del mar ciñe la costa.
    Surgen frías estrellas, emigran negros pájaros.

    Abandonado como los muelles en el alba.
    Sólo la sombra trémula se retuerce en mis manos.

    Ah más allá de todo. Ah más allá de todo.

    Es la hora de partir. Oh abandonado!(Report)Reply

    15 person liked.
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  • Fabrizio FrosiniFabrizio Frosini (11/24/2015 3:37:00 AM)

    ''Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair'' ('' Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada'') : Neruda was 19 when first published the book in 1924.(Report)Reply

    13 person liked.
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  • Kay Staley (8/26/2014 9:37:00 AM)

    How nice. Its utterly sad that Pablo Neruda never learned to rhyme. Poems like his could have been memorized and truly remembered if he had any rhyme scheme at all. His writings are fun to read, but at soon as they are finished, all but the idea of them slips out of your head...with none of his beautiful left to remain. The drastical language and ironicness of the writing style is what keeps this poem in print.(Report)Reply

    12 person liked.
    32 person did not like.
  • Colleen Courtney (6/7/2014 7:10:00 AM)

    It's funny how a poem of such utter despair can be written about so beautifully!(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Captain Herbert PoetryCaptain Herbert Poetry (4/27/2014 1:09:00 PM)

    Encircling on the synonyms of despair. I like it(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Brian JaniBrian Jani (4/27/2014 2:22:00 AM)

    Awesome I like this poem, check mine out (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    7 person did not like.
  • Lyrias Poetry (2/10/2014 10:41:00 AM)

    and in every line I can feel my own sense of despair rising... as if he was saying my words out loud.... as If he lives inside my head. as if he had experienced the turmoil that i kept hidden in my soul.(Report)Reply

    8 person liked.
    7 person did not like.
  • * Sunprincess * (1/27/2014 9:46:00 PM)

    .....the poet sets the scene of despair beautifully...(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Alexander OpichoAlexander Opicho (12/2/2013 4:18:00 AM)

    good, nice, smart, philosophical, mature, ideological, surrealistic and of course nerudaistic in texture(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Amanda Laurent (10/27/2012 12:44:00 AM)

    My favorite line - Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs Such power in the imagery he employs. He holds nothing back with regards to the deepest emotions.(Report)Reply

    15 person liked.
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  • Vikrant JogVikrant Jog (9/24/2012 10:11:00 AM)

    The broken voice and sense can be felt....
    Awesome work of words....(Report)Reply

    11 person liked.
    7 person did not like.
  • Sylva PortoianSylva Portoian (6/17/2012 6:03:00 AM)

    I don't believe poems can be translated...
    As...I do repeat
    Every language has a soul...
    Noone can enter every soul...!(Report)Reply

    24 person liked.
    7 person did not like.
  • A H (6/13/2012 9:42:00 PM)

    Stanza 7 Should read: Pale blind DIVER
    Stanza 24 Should read: You still BROKE IN currents(Report)Reply

    11 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • Subrata Ray (4/19/2010 11:37:00 AM)

    The poet could otherwise depict his past, and muse over the gratification of carnal pleasure.There is no cause to mourn, no reason to brood over the battle of the bodies.Again there is no life -enhancing note in this poem.What has been perpetuating since the advent of human-animals on this earth finds repetition here.
    Again a poet must avoid erotic language, to paint the open -secret between the he-man and the she-man.
    There is no question on the irresistible sex-pleasure.I find no face of a poet in the poem.
    Poet, -subrataray, Uluberia, West Bengal.India(Report)Reply

    14 person liked.
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Read poems about / on: sorrow, woman, lost, despair, sea, solitude, song, childhood, destiny, grief, flower, memory, river, kiss, rose, happy, water, fire, night, hope

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Saturday, March 29, 2014

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