[Editor’s note: Few have employed the Spanish language so masterfully as Pablo Neruda. I’ve often felt that an important incentive to improve my own rudimentary Spanish would be the ability to read and appreciate Neruda’s poetry in his native tongue. For now, alas, I have to be satisfied with the translation of by Alastair Reid, who has been called “Neruda’s most talented and imaginitive English translator”. This is from Neruda’s poetic autobiography, written in his elder years as he reminisced down his long and eventful life from his remote home on the coast of Chile. As winter winds down here in Virginia, and I can already see in the woods the subtle wash of red maple buds, I’m waiting for the earth too.]
Oh tierra, esperame
(Oh, Earth, Wait for Me)
from “Isla Negra“
Return me, oh sun,
to my country destiny,
rain of the ancient woods.
Bring me back its aroma, and the swords
falling from the sky,
the solitary peace of pasture and rock,
the damp at the river margins,
the smell of the larch tree,
the wind alive like a heart
beating in the crowded remoteness
of the towering araucaria.
Earth, give me back your pristine gifts,
towers of silence which rose from
the solemnity of their roots.
I want to go back to being what I haven’t been,
to learn to return from such depths
that among all natural things
I may live or not live. I don’t mind
being one stone more, the dark stone,
the pure stone that the river bears away.
[The photo below shows Neruda’s house at Isla Negra, Chile]