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Tonight I Can Write
By Pablo Neruda
Translated 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.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

--------

From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, in which Robert Pinsky calls Neruda one of the world's most popular writers and recommends Ilan Stavans' new bilingual collection of Neruda poems, I Explain A Few Things. This "graceful, penetrating translation" is a poem Neruda wrote in his 20s, "a love song and an artistic credo, resembling ordinary speech yet extraordinary in its leaps and turns...characteristic of Neruda's lifelong audacity and directness." (I posted it in 2004 without knowing who had written the translation.)

Nicole and Harris spent the day off doing their own thing, so my parents asked whether they could bring her girls along with us when we told them we were going to the zoo. It was a perfect day to be outdoors, in the opinion of everyone but my mother who considers mid-50s too cold; we didn't arrive till after 2 p.m. so didn't have time to see all the animals, but we went through the farm area, spent a lot of time in Amazonia, walked up the loop past the bears, wolves and North American mammals, and headed to the Bird House (Adam's favorite) and Asia Trail, though most of the animals in the latter were already off display for the evening by the time we arrived. We put off the invertebrates until we can visit [livejournal.com profile] perkypaduan working there!


A macaw in the rainforest of the Amazonia exhibit at the National Zoo.


Possibly my favorite plant in the entire world: the cocoa tree and its fruit.


Giant man-eating tarantula on the loose! Okay, actually just a standard tarantula behind glass, but the way Molly reacted, you would have thought it was the former.


A mask on display in the Amazonia science gallery, which has several of the smaller species for up close examination, plus fossils, videos, books and environmental exhibits.


Sabrina made her own mask out of one of the bones on display.


My parents and the girls around one of the microscopes in the Amazonia science area.


The kids watching an interactive display on earthquakes.


Adam and Isabel with a turtle by the Amazon River recreation.


My parents with all the grandchildren.


Maryland beat North Carolina State 37-0, which hopefully means that the Terps will be going to a bowl! We're sort of watching the Missouri/Kansas game, since the kids were up and yakking at us and we didn't think we should put on The Upside of Anger with them watching. And I'm fried from the cats insisting that we should get up regular schoolday time to feed them (Daisy has figured out how to throw my alarm clock onto the floor by the cord) so shall make it an early night!

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