November 7th, 2002


Pablo Neruda - Veinte poemas de amor y una cancin desesperada (02-039)

Pablo Neruda - Veinte poemas de amor y una cancin desesperada (02-039)

I had been in Spain for nearly a fortnight, when in Seville I walked into a bookshop. Not a strange occurrence, I visit bookshops wherever I go, even in places I know I can't read a single book they sell. This time I was optimistic, I had almost read a complete novel (Allende) in Spanish and was looking for something to take home. On the wall a poster with a poem by Neruda. I knew the poem. Neruda was a main character in one of my favourite movies of all times, Il Postino. A poet who taught a simple postmen to use metaphors in his language to write poetry.

This poem convinced me to buy a book by him. And as they were fairly cheap, I even bought two books with his poetry. This one is the first with the straightforward title "20 love poems and a desperate song". I told myself to read a poem every time I picked up the book, it would be good for my vocabulary. I overestimated my own skills. Not one poem made sense. It took me two months to read the book, after a few I nearly gave up, but in the end I made myself read them all. 19 times I was disappointed, knowing that I had just read a piece of art, something unique, though didn't know what was happening.

Then there was poem number 20. The famous poem I knew. The poem that brought it all home for me. I shan't do an attempt to translate, I am sure it has been translated already, go and look for it. It probably won't have the same power as the original, translations never do, but it'll probably be worth the effort anyway. After that poem, I did a short attempt at the song, the only bit in the book that took more than two pages. Useless again. I had bought a book for one single poem. It was worth it.

As it is long and in Spanish, I'll leave it behind a lj-cut. Go on, try to read it. You know you want to.

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