People sometimes talk about Neruda as two different poets: the poet of politics and revolution, and the poet of love or romance. He is actually both at the same time, always; those two impulses overlap or intersect in his poetry.

Here is a sonnet I translated from Neruda’s Cien sonetos de amor:


Should I die, survive me with a force so pure
that you awaken fury from the pale, chill world,
in all directions raise your indelible eyes,
day in, day out, sound your mouth’s guitar.

I don’t want your footsteps to vacillate
nor your smile wane, I don’t want my bequeathed joy
to die. Don’t come knocking at my chest, I’m away.
Dwell in my absence as you would in my estate.

Absence is such a vast house,
that you will walk through its walls
and hang paintings in the air.

Absence is such a transparent house
that without my own life I will watch you live
and if I see you suffer, my love, I will die again.