Sunday, February 14, 2010

Poema 20 - Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines - Pablo Nerudo

As an alternative to a traditional Valentines Day Love Poem, of which  plenty will be flying onto browsers the world over, I decided to share one of my favourite melancholy love poems with my friends in the Blogsphere.  Sadly, there will be no passionate valentines in my in box today.  For those of us without someone to love at the moment (or even for the moment), Valentines day is a day we are allowed to be melancholy.

Pablo Neruda , a Chilean poet who died in 1973,  is the most widely read of the Spanish American poets. Known for more than just his love poetry, from the 1940s on, his works reflected the political struggle of the left and the socio-historical developments in South America.  His original name was Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, but he used the pen name Pablo Neruda for over 20 years before adopting it legally in 1946.
This year marks the centennial of Nobel laureate Neruda's birth. Neruda lived a very interesting life.  He served as a as a diplomat and travelled though Asia, Argentina, France, Spain and Mexico.   When in Spain, he saved the lives of many republicans during the Spanish Civil War and as a consequence of his activism in Chile's Communist Party he was forced into exile in 1948.  Divorced 3 times and known for innumerable affairs, he is no stranger to passion and love.  I have on my "must read" list a biography of this interesting poet, diplomat and seeker of social justice.  My brief read of the product notes on Amazon for the book Pablo Neruda: A Passion for Life, by Adam Feinstein have left me needing to know more.

Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924) have sold over a million copies since it first appeared.  He also wrote the book "100 Love Sonnets".  He was a prolific poet.

In honour of Valentines Day and all us folk who are somewhat wistful and nostalgic about loves lost or even thrown away, I decided to feature a piece by this master of the love poem.  On this one day of the year those of us who are not romantically involved - at least those of us who have in our memory wondrous and joyous romantic relationships, well, we cannot help but be wistful.  I happen not to be "involved" at the moment, so a bit of melancholy love poetry is I think just perfect for me on Valentines Day.  It is really wasted on those who happen to be madly in love.   So those of you who feel up for a bit of melancholy love poetry, here is the most famous of Neruda's melancholy love poetry. For those who are not - skip to the last 2 paragraphs to hear about one of Neruda's other works.

This poem, I think, is just about his most famous love poem - and he published hundreds.  The reading in the You Tube video is perfect -  interpreted by Andy Garcia and accompanied by the theme song from the movie Il Postino: The Postman.  This 1994 Italian language film tells a fictional story in which the real life Chilean poet Pablo Neruda forms a relationship with a simple postman who learns to love poetry. A perfect accompaniment.  As a side note, I think I will go rent that movie tonight.

In 1994, to promote the movie, Miramax published "The Postman (Il Postino): Music From The Miramax Motion Picture", which besides the film's score, composed by Luis Enríquez Bacalov, includes Neruda's poems recited by Sting, Miranda Richardson, Wesley Snipes, Ralph Fiennes, Ethan Hawke, Rufus Sewell, Glenn Close, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia, Willem Dafoe, Madonna, Vincent Perez, and Julia Robert.  Something else to put on my Amazon Wish List, hmm, on second thought maybe I should just buy myself a Valentines Day gift - no one reads my Amazon Wish List, lets be honest!  LOL

Tonight I can Write the Saddest Lines
by Pablo Neruda
read by Andy Garcia

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write for example, 'The night is shattered
and the blue stars 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 immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to a pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered 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 searches for her as though to go to her.
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. Like my kisses before.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is 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.

Neruda is, as mentioned, much more than a writer of love poems.  If love poetry is not your thing you should try his "Canto General" ("General Song").  This book of poetry consists of 15 sections, 231 poems, and more than 15,000 lines. This work attempts to be a history or encyclopedia of the whole continent of Hispanic America.

It has also been set to in music. The best known intonation is by Mikis Theodorakis, a leftist composer and politician from Greece; the vocals in the original recording are by Maria Farantouri and Petros Pandis, who both sang in Spanish. The reason I mention this is that one of the Liberty Wednesday performers, Juan Ortiz is auditioning today and tomorrow for musicians to join him in this latest project of his - a musical production of Canto General.  If you are a musician in the Toronto area and are excited about his project go to his Facebook page for more info.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails