seascene

There are, in our view, many great sea novels but only a few great sea poems. Our favourite amongst the latter is one written by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), winner of the 1972 Nobel Prize for Literature. It’s entitled “Perdón si por mis ojos” and is part of Neruda’s 1973 anthology, “El mar y las campanas” (The Sea and the Bells). The poem, reproduced here with our English translation, speaks, in essence, of solitude and silence – elements we’ve always associated with the sea and the world of the seafarer. Read on and be moved.

PERDÓN SI POR MIS OJOS

Perdón si por mis ojos no llegó
mas claridad que la espuma marina,
perdón porque mi espacio
so extiende sin amparo
y no termina:
monótono es mi canto,
mi palabra es un pájaro sombrío,
fauna de piedra y mar, el desconsuelo
de un planeta invernal, incorruptible.
Perdón por esta sucesión del agua,
de la roca, la espuma, el desvarío
de la marea: así es mi soledad:
bruscos saltos de sal contra los muros
de mi secreto ser, de tal manera
que yo soy una parte
del invierno,
de la misma extensión que se repite
de campana en campana en tantas olas
y de un silencio como cabellera,
silencio de alga, canto sumergido.

FORGIVE ME IF BY MY EYES

Forgive me if by my eyes comes
nothing clearer than sea foam,
forgive me because my space
under extends without refuge
and does not end:
my song is monotonous
my word is a sullen bird,
fauna of stone and sea, the desolation
of a wintry planet, incorruptible.
Forgive me this succession of water,
of rock, the froth, the delirium
of the tide: so is my solitude:
sudden leaps of brine against the walls
of my secret being, in such a way
I am a part
of winter,
of the selfsame extension that repeats itself
from bell to bell in so many waves
and from the silence like a head of hair,
silence of seaweed, underwater song.

~Barista Uno

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