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Don't Go Far Off -- Pablo Neruda

Guest poem sent in by Sitaram Iyer
(Poem #1149) Don't Go Far Off
 Don't go far off, not even for a day, because --
 because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long
 and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
 when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

 Don't leave me, even for an hour, because
 then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
 the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
 into me, choking my lost heart.

 Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
 may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
 Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,

 because in that moment you'll have gone so far
 I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
 Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?
-- Pablo Neruda
In passing through a transient spell of self-inflicted grief, I'm
finding a certain measure of solace in several of Neruda's poems -- not
so much as a distraction, but as a gentle voice that understands and
speaks the pain. Although this poem reflects only an approximation of
the sentiment, the metaphors strike the right sort of chord, helping
convey the appropriate sense of (potential) loss. (I'll get over this
bottomless black mood in a few days, so don't bother sympathizing :))


84 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Kavitha Vishwanath said...


loved this poem. struck a chord somewhere... I guess I too am recovering
from the depths of despondency.. so this one came like a balm to a sore
heart. not that the poem helped me get over the anguish... just felt good
that there are other people in the boat, that I am not alone...

vivian eden said...

A lovely poem -- who translated it?

Vivian Eden

Sitaram Iyer said...

Thus, vivian eden wrote...
> A lovely poem -- who translated it?

Translated by Stephen Tapscott, apparently; this poem is also called
Love Sonnet XLV from Neruda's "Cien sonetos de amor". There are some
nice comments on this and other sonnets on

[broken link]
(search for "XLV" within the page)

Juan Navarro (a Chilean friend of mine) sends me the original Spanish
text for the poem, and describes this as a "Funny translation; has some
ornaments that are not in the original. Not bad, though."

No estés lejos de mí un solo día, porque cómo,
porque, no sé decirlo, es largo el día,
y te estaré esperando como en las estaciones
cuando en alguna parte se durmieron los trenes.

No te vayas por una hora porque entonces
en esa hora se juntan las gotas del desvelo
y tal vez todo el humo que anda buscando casa
venga a matar aún mi corazón perdido.

Ay que no se quebrante tu silueta en la arena,
ay que no vuelen tus párpados en la ausencia:
no te vayas por un minuto, bienamada,

porque en ese minuto te habrás ido tan lejos
que yo cruzaré toda la tierra preguntando
si volverás o si me dejarás muriendo.


Kathy T. Wehrenberg said...

How do I post a comment at the end of a poem? This is my first time,
but Neruda is one of my favorite poets, and this one is the best love
poem I've ever read. The personification of a train being asleep, the
smoke looking for a home (how great!) makes a beautiful effect of
imagery. I love the word "mazily" !

Benita Kape said...

I too looked at this in the light of a recent grief. The story being a little too long for here; but suffice it to say that because of recent happening it was an old grief revived. The loss of a babe many years ago and as I grow older with no photos as reminders it is in my memories only that I hold him. What would it be like if there was no recall?

For me this bought up the strength and the fragility of our connections one to another.


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