Friday, April 9, 2010

Love Sonnet XI - P. Neruda

 Pablo Neruda wrote at least one hundred love sonnets and while this is the first of those here, it won't be the last.  For me, he is another poet best consumed in small quantities, but for a different reason than Amichai (yesterday's post.)  Reading too many of the sonnets at one sitting is like visiting The Barnes Foundation.  By the second room filled with Cezannes and Renoirs, one begins to lose appreciation of each individual one.  By the fifth room, one runs the risk that "...surfeiting, the appetite may sicken and so die" (Orsino in "Twelfth Night") and that would be a loss.  Each poem is beautiful but also almost too rich, the wording (in translation) feels a little too "flowery" for ears accustomed to colloquial English.  (They do feel different in the original Spanish and there are editions of the love sonnets that are bilingual.)  Regardless, some of his imagery is so good (lines 9) that all is forgiven.  Enjoy!
Love Sonnet XI
I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.
                                                                                                   Pablo Neruda -  Chilean

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