I did a reading, I think back in December, maybe on my birthday. Read an older piece of mine. At the end, Chris says, "are you *really* comparing Pablo Neruda to Rod McKuen???"
"No," I say. "The speaker in the poem is doing the comparing."
"But, really ... the speaker was calling them both 'hallmark hacks.' Do you really *mean* that?"
I've read Neruda, I told him. In spanish, even, and my spanish is pretty decent ... however you slice it ... it may be great and heartfelt and magical and musical, but there's still a hallmark thing happening ...
anywhooo, I had a reading a few weeks back ... I was pretty stoked for it, because I knew I'd have some long-lost friends hanging at it, a few of whom are big Nerudites ... so, i took a well-travelled Neruda piece & did my own translation, direct from the spanish text (keep in mind -- there is no spanish equivalent of words like "to do," and that it contains untranslatable idioms). Not tooting my horn, just stating it, and it follows:
I Can Write the Saddest Lines Tonight
by Pablo Neruda
trans. S. E. D.
I can write the saddest lines tonight
cld write the night is starry
the stars, afar, shiver blue
the wind of the sky in the night sings, circles
I can write the saddest lines tonight.
I loved her, Jack, &, sometimes, she loved me, too.
on nights like this I’d hold her in my arms
kiss her countless times beneath the endless sky
she loved me, Jack. I loved her, too, at times
how not to love those big, still eyes
I can write the saddest lines tonight,
to think I don’t have her. I lost her.
to hear the vast night, greater than she
verse falls to soul, is dew to pasture
what matters my love can’t keep her
the night is starry & she’s gone
far off, somebody is singing, far off
my soul is sad from losing
closer to the vest
my heart looks for her -- she’s gone
the same night whitens the same trees
we no longer are the same
I no longer love her, but how I did
my voice searched for the wind to touch her ear
& now, kisses from another, as before from me
her voice, her body clear, their eyes endless
I don’t love her, that’s true, but maybe I do
so short, love, & forgetting so long
b/c on nights like this I’d hold her in my arms
my soul is sad from losing,
even though this is my final pain
& these are the last lines I’ll write
I can write the saddest lines of all tonight.