By Pablo Neruda, Translated by Jack Schmitt
The shadow that I probed is no longer mine.
I possess the enduring happiness of the mainmast,
the forest legacy, the wind of the road
and a determined day beneath the earthly light.
I don’t write so that other books can imprison me
or for passionate apprentices of lilies,
but for simple inhabitants who request
water and moon, elements of the immutable order,
schools, bread and wine, guitars and tools.
I write for the people, even though they cannot
read my poetry with their rustic eyes.
The moment will come in which a line, the air
that stirred my life, will reach their ears,
and then the farmer will raise his eyes,
the miner will smile breaking stones,
the brakeman will wipe his brow,
the fisherman will see clearly the glow
of a quivering fish that will burn his hand
the mechanic, clean, recently washed,
smelling of soap, will see my poems,
and perhaps they will say: “He was a friend.”
That’s enough, that’s the crown that I want.
At the gates of factories and mines I want
my poetry to cling to the earth,
to the air, to the victory of abused mankind.
In the hardness that I built, like a box,
slowly and with metals, I would like
the youth who opens it, face-t-face, to find life,
and plunging his soul in may he reach the gusts
that spelled my happiness, in the stormy heights.