Guest poem sent in by Anustup Datta who writes: Aseem's poem [Poem #1409] reminded me of Joni Mitchell's voice and the way it sparkles like a dry white wine in a crysal goblet, so I had to go back and listen to River again after a long time. Coincidentally, I was reading Neruda's poetry just yesterday, and I came across this gem, which I don't think we have run -
(Poem #1410) If You Forget Me
I want you to know one thing. You know how this is: if I look at the crystal moon, at the red branch of the slow autumn at my window, if I touch near the fire the impalpable ash or the wrinkled body of the log, everything carries me to you, as if everything that exists: aromas, light, metals, were little boats that sail toward those isles of yours that wait for me. Well, now, if little by little you stop loving me I shall stop loving you little by little. If suddenly you forget me do not look for me, for I shall already have forgotten you. If you think it long and mad, the wind of banners that passes through my life, and you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots, remember that on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms and my roots will set off to seek another land. But if each day, each hour, you feel that you are destined for me with implacable sweetness, if each day a flower climbs up to your lips to seek me, ah my love, ah my own, in me all that fire is repeated, in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten, my love feeds on your love, beloved, and as long as you live it will be in your arms without leaving mine.
(translated by Donald S. Walsh) This is vintage Neruda - with all the passion and fickleness of desire. The underlying melancholy is beautifully brought out by the conversational style (a la Mir Taqi Mir) - the conceit could have been metaphysical had it not been for the pain inherent in every verse. This is love that is hurting, that has been hurt in the past, and yet is open to being hurt again. There is surrender (and renunciation), but how different from, for instance, Juliet's youthful optimism in surrender - "Three words, dear Romeo, and good night indeed. If that thy bent of love be honourable, Thy purpose marriage, send me word to-morrow, By one that I'll procure to come to thee, Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite; And all my fortunes at thy foot I'll lay And follow thee my lord throughout the world." - Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II. A really moving poem, the more for being tender and unpretentious. I think Madonna recites this in the "Il Postino" soundtrack, incidentally. For those who care about things like the original Spanish, here it is - "Si Tu Me Olvidas" By Pablo Neruda Quiero que sepas una cosa. Tú sabes cómo es esto: si miro la luna de cristal, la rama roja del lento otoño en mi ventana, si toco junto al fuego la impalpable ceniza o el arrugado cuerpo de la leña, todo me lleva a ti, como si todo lo que existe: aromas, luz, metales, fueran pequeños barcos que navegan hacia las islas tuyas que me aguardan. Ahora bien, si poco a poco dejas de quererme dejaré de quererte poco a poco. Si de pronto me olvidas no me busques, que ya te habré olvidado. Si consideras largo y loco el viento de banderas que pasa por mi vida y te decides a dejarme a la orilla del corazón en que tengo raíces, piensa que en esa día, a esa hora levantaré los brazos y saldrán mis raíces a buscar otra tierra. Pero si cada día, cada hora, sientes que a mí estás destinada con dulzura implacable, si cada día sube una flor a tus labios a buscarme, ay amor mío, ay mía, en mí todo ese fuego se repite, en mí nada se apaga ni se olvida, mi amor se nutre de tu amor, amada, y mientras vivas estará en tus brazos sin salir de los míos. Regards Anustup