Pablo Neruda -Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines – Latin American Rebel Poet

Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973) was a Chilean poet, diplomat and Nobel Prize Winner for Literature (1971). He was renowned for penning fine poetry from the age of 13. As a communist, Neruda served as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party, but was forced to flee Chile in 1948 when a warrant was issued for his arrest. He returned to his homeland with the election of the socialist Salvador Allende and served as adviser to the President.

When the fascist General Pinochet launched a military coup  in 1973 to overthrow the Allende government, Neruda was in hospital being treated for cancer. His left the medical facility afraid that he was to be murdered by the doctor then placed in charge of his care. Neruda claimed that he was injected by a doctor under orders from Pinochet.

Upon arriving home from the hospital, Neruda died a few days later. Pinochet refused a state funeral for him but the people rebelled and turned out en masse to honour the man widely regarded as the national poet of Chile. It was later revealed that Pinochet had indeed had Neruda poisoned in hospital and was, therefore, responsible for his murder. Today, Pablo Neruda continues to be lauded across Latin America and beyond. His life is an example of the power of poetry and the fear that such artists engender in the corrupt percentile that seeks to rule us all.

Here is one of his beautiful poems in translation.

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, and 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 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 void. 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.

– Pablo Neruda

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