Thursday, December 01, 2005

No slow death for me

A few days ago, Lía posted this Pablo Neruda poem on her blog, and being a chilenophile and a lover of poetry (his in particular), as well as a lover of life, I just had to share it with you all. Below the Spanish is my own clumsy attempt at an English translation:

NOTE: It seems that this poem might not actually have been written by Neruda, but rather a Brazilian poet named Martha Madeiros. Either way, it's good!!

Muere lentamente quien se transforma en esclavo del
hábito, repitiendo todos los días los mismos trayectos, quien
no cambia de marca, no arriesga vestir un color nuevo y no
le habla a quien no conoce.

Muere lentamente quien evita una pasión, quien prefiere el
negro sobre blanco y los puntos sobres las "ies" a un
remolino de emociones,
justamente las que rescatan el brillo de los ojos, sonrisas de
los bostezos, corazones a los tropiezos y sentimientos.

Muere lentamente quien no voltea la mesa cuando está
infeliz en el trabajo, quien no arriesga lo cierto por lo
incierto para ir detrás de un sueño, quien no se permite por
lo menos una vez en la vida, huir de los consejos sensatos.

Muere lentamente quien no viaja, quien no lee, quien no oye
música, quien no encuentra gracia en sí mismo.

Muere lentamente quien destruye su amor propio, quien no
se deja ayudar.

Muere lentamente quien pasa los días quejándose de su
mala suerte o de la lluvia incesante.

Muere lentamente quien abandona un proyecto antes de
iniciarlo, no preguntando de un asunto que desconoce o no
respondiendo cuando le indagan sobre algo que sabe.

Evitemos la muerte en suaves cuotas, recordando siempre
que estar vivo exige un esfuerzo mucho mayor que el
simple hecho de respirar.

Solamente la ardiente paciencia hará que conquistemos una
espléndida felicidad.

-Pablo Neruda


English version:

He dies a slow death who becomes a slave to habit, repeating everyday
the same paths, who doesn't change the mark he leaves, won't risk wearing
a new color, nor talk to people he doesn't know.

He dies a slow death who avoids passion, who prefers
black on white and dotted i's over
a whirlwind of emotions,
especially those that bring a shine to the eyes, rescue smiles
from yawns, hearts clumsy with feelings.

He dies a slow death who doesn't upend the table when he is
unhappy at work, who won't risk a sure thing
for the uncertainty behind a dream, who won't allow himself
at least once in his life, to flee from sensible advice.

He dies a slow death who doesn't travel, nor read, nor hear
music, who doesn't laugh at himself.

He dies a slow death who destroys his love for himself, who won't
let himself be helped.

He dies a slow death who spends his days complaining of his
bad luck or of the neverending rain.

He dies a slow death who quits a project before
starting it, not asking about what he doesn't know, or not
answering when asked about something he does know.

Let us avoid death by gentle insallments, remembering always
that being alive demands an effort much greater
than the simple fact of breathing.

Only firey patience will allow us to conquer
a splendid happiness.


Lía said...

La traducción ha quedado genial, enhorabuena!

goodkarma said...


Kenny said...

Hi, thanks for visiting my blog. Keep coming back. I try to keep it interesting.

Thanks for your comment on being in AA/Alanon. Are you in it too? Can we start a web ring called Sober Knitters?

itzpapalotl said...

:) y viene de Neruda, quien evidentemente sigue viviendo a pesar de la muerte

medea said...

I'm a lazy knitter, I skip over poems. But in this case, I read it and "got it". It basically sums up my conclusions of this past week. Viva la pronoia!

margene said...

What a great poem. Thanks for the translation!

Oscar said...

Wow! I've always loved this poem and I wanted to give it to a friend of mine who doesn't read spanish so your translation really helped me :)) Thanks for spending your time to translate this poem keeping the strength of the original!

imago said...

and thanks from me too, - I found your translation when I needed one for a friend.

Marcos said...

Thank you for your translation.
It is well done.
I want to offer a comment to the line

"quien no cambia de marca"

here "marca" refers to the "brand" of a product.
So I think that it would translate as "who does not change brands"

Sol said...

I searched in the internet about this poem but I didn´t found in the oficial site of Pablo Neruda anything about it.
But I found a poem from Martha Medeiros called "A Morte Devagar".
You can find it here
It's written in portuguese. The autor is brazilian.

Sol said...

I forgot to tell you but I believe that Pablo Neruda didn't write it.
Seems to be an internet rumor.
I tryed to check it but it's difficult to do it here.
There is a chance the autor is Martha Medeiros a brasilian writter.
Sorry but I couldn't find this site in english version.
Anyway, I will consult a library just to be sure.
Have a nice life
Kisses from Portugal

Anonymous said...

I have read this poem several years ago as authored by Neruda. The translation is somewhat different. Hindi is my mother tongue. It is interesting that you have decided to learn it. Any particular reason?
Love and peace.Goody