Saturday, August 15, 2015

There’s No Forgetting (Sonata)

I have been aching for words to say it; but words are failing me again, and again, and again... Like the world failed Syria, and Palestine, and Lebanon, and so many other places before... And in the end I just return to this haunting poem by Pablo Neruda, perhaps my favorite of his, and on which I based my thesis, "Memory for Forgetfulness”: Registering/Effacing the Memory of the Lebanese War, which has, at once, tragically come back to life and become laughably irrelevant...
Ask me where I have been
and I’ll tell you: “Things keep on happening.”
I must talk of the rubble that darkens the stones;
of the river’s duration, destroying itself;
I know only the things that the birds have abandoned,
or the sea behind me, or my sorrowing sister.
Why the distinctions of place? Why should day
follow day? Why must the blackness
of nighttime collect in our mouths? Why the dead?

If you question me: where have you come from, I must talk
___with things falling away,
artifacts tart to the taste,
great, cankering beasts, as often as not,
and my own inconsolable heart.

Those who cross over with us are no keepsakes,
nor the yellowing pigeon that sleeps in forgetfulness:
only the face with its tears,
the hands at our throats,
whatever the leafage dissevers:
the dark of an obsolete day,
a day that has tasted the grief in our blood.

Here are the violets, swallows—
all the things that delight us, the delicate tallies
that show in the lengthening train
through which pleasure and transience pass.

Here let us halt, in the teeth of a barrier:
useless to gnaw on the husks that the silence assembles.
For I come without answers:
see: the dying are legion,
legion, the breakwaters breached by the red of the sun,
the headpieces knocking the ship’s side,
the hands closing over their kisses,
and legion the things I would give to oblivion.

—Pablo Neruda
© Translation: 1974, Ben Belitt
From:
Pablo Neruda, Five Decades: Poems 1925-1970
Publisher: Grove Press, New York, 1974
Hear this recited at Poetry International Festival Rotterdam, 2004
by Krip Yuso.


No Hay Olvido (Sonata)

Si me preguntáis en dónde he estado
debo decir "Sucede".
Debo de hablar del suelo que oscurecen las piedras,
del río que durando se destruye:
no sé sino las cosas que los pájaros pierden,
el mar dejado atrás, o mi hermana llorando.
Por qué tantas regiones, por qué un día
se junta con un día? Por qué una negra noche
se acumula en la boca? Por qué muertos?

Si me preguntáis de dónde vengo, tengo que conversar con
      cosas rotas,
con utensilios demasiado amargos,
con grandes bestias a menudo podridas
y con mi acongojado corazón.

No son recuerdos los que se han cruzado
ni es la paloma amarillenta que duerme en el olvido,
sino caras con lágrimas,
dedos en la garganta,
y lo que se desploma de las hojas:
la oscuridad de un día transcurrido,
de un día alimentado con nuestra triste sangre.

He aquí violetas, golondrinas,
todo cuanto nos gusta y aparece
en las dulces tarjetas de larga cola
por donde se pasean el tiempo y la dulzura.

Pero no penetremos más allá de esos dientes,
no mordamos las cáscaras que el silencio acumula,
porque no sé qué contestar:
hay tantos muertos,
y tantos malecones que el sol rojo partía,
y tantas cabezas que golpean los buques,
y tantas manos que han encerrado besos,
y tantas cosas que quiero olvidar.

—Pablo Neruda

3 comments:

thepoetryman said...

Pablo is amazing. Excellent choice my friend. Most poignant.

pepektheassassin said...

Beautiful. And never irrelevant.

arch.memory said...

(Pepek, I meant my thesis, not Neruda. I don't think Neruda could ever be irrelevant.)