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Saddest Poem

Pablo Neruda

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Added by: Angel
I cringed when I read this translation. I agree with the other's, W.S. Merwin's translation "Tonight I Can Write.." is far more beautiful. This author makes me want to learn Spanish so that I can read his work as intended.
Added by: Nanis
I think this is suppose to be Tonight I can Write...I have one more correction to add, in the original Neruda wrote "Como antes de mis besos" Like before my kisses, not As she once belonged to my kisses.

The correct translation makes a huge difference, i think.
the saddest poem
Added by: Grace Vargas
"Tonight i can write" is a much better version. There's much more melancholy in the way Neruda's sadness is portrayed...
Another translation
Added by: Tim Baehr
I've translated all 20 of Neruda's love poems, partly because I thought Merwin took too many liberties. But I can appreciate the immense difficulties in translation, especially with Neruda. His poetry, even in Spanish, is like reading an encyclopedia through a kaleidoscope.

Here's my version of #20, (c) Tim Baehr 2003.

I can write the saddest lines tonight.

Write, for example, “The night is full of stars,
and the stars tremble, blue, in the distance.”

The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.

I can write the saddest lines tonight.
I loved her, and sometimes she also loved me.

On nights like this I held her in my arms.
I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky.

She loved me; sometimes I also loved her.
How not to have loved her large, steady eyes?

I can write the saddest lines tonight.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, more immense without her.
And the line falls on my soul like dew on the pasture.

What does it matter if my love could not keep her?
The night is full of stars, and she is not with me.

That is all. Far away someone is singing. Far away.
My soul is not satisfied with having lost her.

My gaze seeks her, as if to bring her near.
My heart seeks her, and she is not with me.

The same night that turns the same trees white.
We, the ones from before, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, it is cerain, but how I loved her.
My voice looked for the wind to touch her ear.

Another. She will belong to another. As before my kisses.
Her voice, her fair body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, it is certain, but perhaps I do love her.
Love is so short, and forgetting is so long.

Because on nights like this I held her in my arms,
my soul is not satisfied with having lost her.

Even though this is the last pain that she causes me,
and these are the last verses that I write to her.
Tim Baehr's Translation
Added by: Erinn
I do not know Spanish, and therefore maybe I'm overstepping my boundaries here, but Tim Baehr's translation seems much better than this shoddy version. I like Merwin's translation well enough, but somehow it doesn't have the same whimpering tone that I think Neruda intended. Baehr seems to capture that a bit better. The only thing I do not like about Baehr's translation is the line "love is so short, and forgetting is so long." It is much colder and harsher with "oblivion," than with "forgetting."

Cheers, Tim Baehr. Your translation seems well thought-out and indeed holds more melancholy - the way I believe Neruda had wanted it.
I personally like this version to the other two
Added by: Oscar
Maybe it's because I don't speak Spanish, or maybe because I never took English in university but, of the three versions, I like this one the best. I've read numerous comments here about how "shoddy" this version is, or how people "cringed" at this incorrect version but, as some one that has done French translations, I've found that you'll rarely be able get two people to translate the same sentence the exact same way; it's all a matter of style, and this style appeals to me more. I prefer "oblivion" to "forgetting" for the same reasons as above. I find the line "the same night that whitens the same trees", more poetic than "The same night that turns the same trees white." or "The same night whitening the same trees." And finally, I find the image of blades of grass being bent by the weight of a dew drop more compeling than that of a dew drop disappearing in a sea of green; remembering my own loss is like a huge weight has been put on my chest...not something that is lost easily. But as I said at the beginning, I am neither a native Spanish speaker, nor a literary expert and in the end, to paraphrase someone else, I may not know what is poetry but, I know what I like. To each their own. :)
all of you
Added by: sara s
yes some translation are aweful, some are better than others. but they try. its not easy u know they just do their best so people that read in anothe lingo can admire these poems as well. i do think spanish is a sweet language (and an easy one too) anyways..i liked this poem it almost made me cry to remember a past love.

*Baby S
Added by: Niels
The translation posted here is not Donald D. Walsh's: Walsh is a pretty good translator, and this one is clearly not done by a pro.

Tim Baehr's translation is a lot better indeed, it does the poem much more justice.
Tim, question for you: you translate 'En las noches como ésta' literally into 'In nights like THIS', which to me sounds odd: in Spanish I'd say 'éstas' and in English I'd say 'these'. Do you have any idea why Neruda used the singular form here?

Friendly greetings,
Added by: marga
it's a very special poem. close to my heart.
Added by: Ana
this poem brought me to tears.. it is perfect for what im going through right now..


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