“Night Sea” by Pablo Neruda

Night Sea

Night sea, statue of white and green
I love you: sleep with me. I travelled all
the roads, calcined and dying,
nature grew with me, Man
overcame his ashes, prepared himself
for rest, surrounded by the Earth.

Night fell so that your eyes
could not see his miserable slumber:
needing nearness, he opened his arms
protected by beings and walls,
and fell into the sleep of silence, sinking
with his roots into the funereal earth.
I, night ocean, to your open form,
to your expanse that Aldebaran guards,
to the wet mouth of your song
came with the love that builds me.

I saw you, night of the sea, when you were born
beaten into infinite nacre:
I watched the starry threads woven,
and the electricity at your waist,
and the blue motion of the sounds
that hound your devoured sweetness.

Love me without love, flagrant wife.

Love me with space, with the river
of your breathing, with the increase
of all your overflowing diamonds:
love me without respite from your aspect,
grant me the honesty of your breakers.
Beautiful, you are, beloved night, beautiful:
you keep the tempest like a bee
slumbering among your agitated stamens,
dream and water tremble in the hollows
of your breasts, harassed by slopes.

Nocturnal love, I followed what you raised,
your eternity, the trembling tower
that assumes the stars, the measure
of your wavering, the villages
that the spume raises on your flanks:
I am fastened to your throat
and to the lips that you bruise on the sand.

Who are you? Night of the seas, tell me
whether your heights of hair cover
all solitude, whether it is infinite
this space of blood and prairies.
Tell me who you are, full of boats,
full of moons the wind crushes,
mistress of all metals, rose
of the depths, rose drenched
by the harsh weather of naked love.

Earth’s tunic, green statue,
grant me a wave like a bell,
grant me a wave of furious orange blossom,
the crowd of bonfires, the boats
of the sky’s capital, the water where I sail
the crowds of celestial fire. I want one
moment of expansiveness, and more than
all dreams, your remoteness:
all the purples you measure, your grave
pensive, constellated system:
all your hair touched
by darkness, and the dawn you prepare.

I want to contain your simultaneous brow,
unfurling it within me, to be born
on all your shores, to go now
with all the secrets breathed,
with your shadow lines kept safe
in me like blood or flags,
carrying these secret measures
to the sea of every day, to the battles
in every gateway –-loves and threats-–
that live slumbering.
                                             But then

I will enter the city with as many eyes
as you, and I will bear the garment
with which you invested me, and may I be moved
to the furthest reaches of measureless water:
by purity and rage against every deathliness,
remoteness that cannot be exhausted, music
for those who slumber and those who wake.


Pablo Neruda, 1904–1973

© 1950 Pablo Neruda
“La Noche Marina” from Canto General
English translation by A.S. Kline

Photo by Anthony Cantin on Unsplash

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