Pablo Neruda and Love

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In an attempt to better my Spanish, I have been reading the works of Spanish speaking poets. The Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, has quickly become one of my favorites. He expresses romantic love so clearly. His poems are honest and vulnerable, and I love them best in their native language. The romantic, dream-like words of the Spanish language describe love more beautifully than English ever could for two reasons. First, Spanish uses the subjunctive mood more frequently than English when describing desires, wishes, hopes, and dreams, providing totally different words to use for the creative, hopeful, dream-like state of romance or other states of emotion. Also, in Spanish there are many more words for describing the loving or liking of something which gives a clearer image of the depth and type of loving or liking being described. In English the verb “to love” can be used for pretty much anything, your car, dress, a person. In many ways, this belittles its meaning when used between lovers. In Spanish, “amar,” the verb for “to love” is rarely used for anything other than romantic love, giving a much deeper significance when used. Below is one of my favorites by Neruda.

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Your Hands

When your hands reach out,
love, towards mine,
what do they bring me flying?
Why did they stop
at my mouth, suddenly,
why do I recognize them
as if then, before,
I had touched them,
as if before they existed
they had passed over
my forehead, my waist?

Their softness came
flying over time,
over the sea, over the smoke,
over the spring, and when you placed
your hands on my chest,
I recognized those golden
dove wings,
I recognized that clay
and that color of wheat.

All the years of my life
I walked around looking for them.
I went up the stairs,
I crossed the roads,
trains carried me,
waters brought me,
and in the skin of the grapes
I thought I touched you.
The wood suddenly
brought me your touch,
the almond announced to me
your secret softness,
until your hands
closed on my chest
and there like two wings
they ended their journey.

~

Tus Manos

Cuando tus manos salen,
amor, hacia las mías,
¿qué me traen volando?
¿Por qué se detuvieron
en mi boca, de pronto,
por qué las reconozco
como si entonces, antes,
las hubiera tocado,
como si antes de ser
hubieran recorrido
mi frente, mi cintura?

Su suavidad venía
volando sobre el tiempo,
sobre el mar, sobre el humo,
sobre la primavera,
y cuando tú pusiste
tus manos en mi pecho,
reconocí esas alas
de paloma dorada,
reconocí esa greda
y ese color de trigo.

Los años de mi vida
yo caminé buscándolas.
Subí las escaleras,
crucé los arrecifes,
me llevaron los trenes
las aguas me trajeron,
y en la piel de las uvas
me pareció tocarte.

La madera de pronto
me trajo tu contacto,
la almendra me anunciaba
tu suavidad secreta,
hasta que se cerraron
tus manos en mi pecho
y allí como dos alas
terminaron su viaje.

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