This morning, apropos of nothing better to do —which is not to say there aren’t many things to do, just, no thing better than translating some favorite lines of verse— I bring you my translation of Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet 15 from “Veinte Poemas de Amor y una Canción Desesperada.”
Sonnet 15 (Pablo Neruda)
I like you when you are quiet because you are as if absent,
and you hear me from afar, and my voice doesn’t touch you.
It seems as if your eyes had flown away
and it seems as if a kiss were closing your mouth.
Since all things are full of my soul
you emerge from among things filled with my soul.
Butterfly of dreams, you look like my soul
and you look like the word ‘melancolía.’
I like you when you are quiet and you’re as if distant.
It’s as if you were moaning, lullabied butterfly.
And you hear me from afar, and my voice doesn’t reach you:
let me become quiet with your silence.
Allow me also to speak to you with your silence
clear as a lamp, simple as a ring.
You are like the nighttime, quiet and constellated.
Your silence is of a star, so far away and simple.
I like you when you are quiet because you are as if absent.
Distant and sorrowful as if you had died.
One word, then, one smile is enough.
And I am happy, happy that it not be true.
[Pablo Neruda’s original here.]
Copyright © 2012 – 2013, Elisabeth Withaness. Don’t steal! But DO feel free to share, with attribution and link.
Black Hockey Jesus, I’m your fan.
This is a beautiful translation, and by far the best I have seen yet. Thank you.
Sarah, thank you!