I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.
Translated By Mark Eisner
Note: Chilean poet Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto wrote under the pseudonym of Pablo Neruda. His poems, all written in Spanish, are difficult to translate and as a result only a
small proportion of Neruda’s oeuvre is available in English. Working as a diplomat with communist sympathies, Neruda was never far from political intrigue. In 1971 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and was nominated for president by the Chilean Communist party. Neruda withdrew his candidacy, so paving the way for Socialist nominee Salvador Allende to become president. Three days after being hospitalised with cancer, at the time of the Chilean coup d’état led by Augusto Pinochet, Neruda died of heart failure. Some suspect the junta had a hand in his death.