reading with neruda

Yesterday I reread Pablo Neruda’s “Te recuerdo como eras….” (‘I remember you as you were’). I read the original Spanish glancing at the translation for words I wasn’t sure about. Then I reread the original poem aloud.

But, with my halting Spanish, there was something so frustrating about the experience. As if I couldn’t connect with the poem, as if my linguistic limitations got in the way of the poetic experience.

Borges said that

Truly fine poetry must be read aloud. A good poem does not allow itself to be read in a low voice or silently. If we can read it silently, it is not a valid poem: a poem demands pronounciation. Poetry always remembers that it was an oral art. It remembers that it was first song.

So I searched for an audio recording of Neruda reading his poem. Listening to it, I found it interesting that we paused at different times, our rhythms differed.

But once I started silently reading the words along with him, something changed. It became a more intimate experience, there was a stronger connection to Neruda’s longing.

Have a listen and see what you think:

click here: Te recuerdo como eras..

(The original text is on the same page – under the recording box – if you want to follow along).

Here is the English version:

I remember you as you were in the last autumn.
You were the grey beret and the still heart.
In your eyes the flames of the twilight fought on.
And the leaves fell in the water of your soul.

Clasping my arms like a climbing plant
the leaves garnered your voice, that was slow and at peace.
Bonfire of awe in which my thirst was burning.
Sweet blue hyacinth twisted over my soul.

I feel your eyes traveling, and the autumn is far off:
Grey beret, voice of a bird, heart like a house
Towards which my deep longings migrated
And my kisses fell, happy as embers.

Sky from a ship. Field from the hills:
Your memory is made of light, of smoke, of a still pond!
Beyond your eyes, farther on, the evenings were blazing.
Dry autumn leaves revolved in your soul.

6 thoughts on “reading with neruda

  1. I have never been very good with poetry. But I like the advice to read it aloud. I’m going to start doing that. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Good ! Absolutely true about reading aloud, as poetry is music as much as images. — And thank you for visiting my blog !

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