The sea

Via #Wordy Thursday and #D’Verse response poetry

My translation of “El Mar” (The Sea) by Pablo Neruda

I need the sea for what it teaches me:
whether I’m learning music or awareness,
I don’t know; if it’s only a wave or deep existence
or just a hoarse voice or blinding
belief of vessels and fish, I don’t know.
The fact is that even when I’m sleeping,
in some magnetic way I circle
in the university of tides.
It’s not just the crushed shells
as if some quaking planet
announces a gradual death,
no, from the fragment I rebuild the day,
a stalactite from a wisp of salt
and from a teaspoon an immense god.
I keep all it taught me before! It is air,
incessant wind, water and sand.
It seems so little for the youth
who went to live there with fires,
and yet the pulse that would rise
and sink into its rift,
the cold of the crackling blue,
the crumbling of the star,
the gentle detachment of the wave
squandering snow with the foam,
the quiet power, there, fixed
like a rocky throne in the deep,
replaced the walls that nurtured
stubborn sadness, hoarding obscurity,
and abruptly changed my existence;
my attachment to pure movement.

My response: The sky

Far from the sea, I took lessons from the sky:
painting pictures in the clouds, seeking
my angel’s voice in that vertiginous blue,
my back plastered safely on the grass.
The sea I finally saw hid waves, far out,
where I never had to go except in dreams,
staying where my feet could touch the sand,
never letting myself be swept away,
wiping salt from my eyes to see
my guardian angel hovering.
Inland, the trees became a sky for me,
green vaulted castles full of tales,
roof moving in the wind like waves
with the same hissing ebb and flow,
rooted to the earth, like me.

Note: I translated this poem before looking for any other translations so I could keep it genuine. I found an excellent version by Fernando Gros.


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