Favourite Poets: Pablo Neruda, So that you will hear me


So that you will hear me
my words
sometimes grow thin
as the tracks of the gulls on the beaches.

Necklace, drunken bell
for your hands smooth as grapes.

And I watch my words from a long way off.
They are more yours than mine.
They climb on my old suffering like ivy.

It climbs the same way on damp walls.
You are to blame for this cruel sport.
They are fleeing from my dark lair.
You fill everything, you fill everything.

Before you they peopled the solitude that you occupy,
and they are more used to my sadness than you are.

Now I want them to say what I want to say to you
to make you hear as I want you to hear me.

The wind of anguish still hauls on them as usual.
Sometimes hurricanes of dreams still knock them over.
You listen to other voices in my painful voice.

Lament of old mouths, blood of old supplications.
Love me, companion. Don’t forsake me. Follow me.
Follow me, companion, on this wave of anguish.

But my words become stained with your love.
You occupy everything, you occupy everything.

I am making them into an endless necklace
for your white hands, smooth as grapes.

So that you will hear me

John Donne has taken up my favourite poets for a good couple of months now, and with good reason: Donne’s work is astonishing, and comforting, and everything from religious to erotic with a good smattering of humour in between.

Onwards with the favourite poets then. Now on to Neruda!

Is there anything more beautiful than Neruda poetry? Well yes, I’m sure on days there are, but not this day. I love the change from you fill everything to you occupy everything: this lover has gone from being present in this person’s life to being this person’s life. I love the way the writer talks about his words being hauled by his past, by his dreams – and that the lover takes them all in their stride, doesn’t flee from them or draw back from them. Just accepts the writer as they are. I love the words becoming stained with love; stains don’t come out easily so every word the writer utters now has that stain of love to it. And that, that is the most beautiful thing of all.


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