Cien Sonetos de Amor
Cover of Stephen Tapscott's English translation of Cien sonetos de amor
|Original title||Cien sonetos de amor|
|Series||Latin American Literature and Culture|
|Publisher||University of Texas Press|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
Cien sonetos de amor (100 Love Sonnets) is a collection of sonnets written by the Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda originally published in Argentina in 1959. Dedicated to his beloved wife (at the time), Matilde Urrutia, it is divided into the four stages of the day: morning, afternoon, evening, and night.
The sonnets have been translated into English numerous times by various scholars. The most widely acclaimed English translation was made by Stephen Tapscott and published in 1986. In 2004, Gustavo Escobedo translated the 100 sonnets for the 100th anniversary of Neruda’s birth.
Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig
and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips:
maybe it was the voice of the rain crying,
a cracked bell, or a torn heart.
Something from far off: it seemed
deep and secret to me, hidden by the earth,
a shout muffled by huge autumns,
by the moist half-open darkness of the leaves.
Wakening from the dreaming forest there, the hazel-sprig
sang under my tongue, its drifting fragrance
climbed up through my conscious mind
as if suddenly the roots I had left behind
cried out to me, the land I had lost with my childhood—
and I stopped, wounded by the wandering scent.
– Translated by Stephen Tapscott
Dedication: To Matilde Urrutia (October 1959)
Morning / Mañana (Sonnets 1-32)
- Matilde: the name of a plant, or a rock, or a wine
- Love, what a long way, to arrive at a kiss
- Bitter love, a violet with its crown
- You will remember that leaping stream
- I did not hold your night, or your air, or the dawn
- Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig
- Come with me, I said, and no one knew
- If your eyes were not the color of the moon
- There where the waves shatter on the restless rocks
- This beauty is soft – as if music and wood
- I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair
- Full woman, flesh-apple, hot moon
- The light that rises from your feet to you hair,
- I don’t have time enough to celebrate your hair.
- The earth has known you for a long time now:
- I love the handful of the earth you are.
- I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
- You move through the mountain like a breeze,
- While the huge seafoam of Isla Negra,
- My ugly love, you’re a messy chestnut.
- If only love would spread its savor through me!
- Love, how often I loved you without seeing—
- The fire for light, a rancorous moon for bread,
- Love, love, the clouds went up the tower of the sky
- Before I loved you, Love, nothing was my own:
- Neither the color of Iquique’s awesome dunes,
- Naked, you are simple as one of your hands,
- Love, from seed to seed, from planet to planet,
- You came from poverty, from the houses of the South,
- You have the thick hair of a larch from the archipelago,
- Little queen of my bones, I crown you
- The house this morning—with its truths
Afternoon / Mediodía (Sonnets 33-53)
- Love, we’re going home now,
- You are the daughter of the sea, oregano’s first cousin,
- Your hand flew from my eyes into the day.
- My heart, queen of the beehive and the barnyard,
- O love, O crazy sunbeam and purple premonition,
- Your house sounds like a train at noon:
- But I forgot that your hands fed the roots,
- It was green, the silence; the light was moist;
- January rough times, when the indifferent
- Radiant days rolling on the water, intense as the inside
- I hunt for a sign of you in all the others,
- You must know that I do not love and that I love you,
- Don’t go far off, not even for a day, because—
- Of all the stars I admired, drenched
- I want to look back and see you in the branches.
- Two happy lovers make one bread,
- It’s today: all of yesterday dropped away
- Cotapos says your laughter drops
- Your laugh: it reminds me of a tree
- You sing, and your voice peels the husk
- Here are the bread—the wine—the table—the house:
Evening / Tarde (54-78)
- Luminous mind, bright devil
- Thorns, shattered glass, sickness, crying: all day
- Get used to seeing the shadow behind me, accept
- They’re liars, those who say I lost the moon,
- Among the broadswords of literary iron
- Poor unlucky poets: whom both life and death
- Those who wanted to wound me wounded you,
- Love dragged its tail of pain,
- Woe is me, woe is us, my dearest:
- I walked: not only through the wasteland where the
- My life was tinted purple by so much love,
- Matilde, where are you? Down there I noticed,
- I do not love—except because I love you:
- The great rain from the South falls on Isla Negra
- The girl made of wood didn’t come here on foot;
- Maybe nothingness is to be without your presence,
- Maybe—through I do not bleed—I am wounded,
- Love crosses its islands, from grief to grief,
- My love, winter returns to its billet,
- Maybe you’ll remember that razor-faced man
- Wet with the waters of August, the road
- Here are the houses, the sea, the flag.
- With the patience of a bear, Diego Rivera
- Today is today, with the weight of all past time,
- I have no never-again, I have no always. In the sand
Night / Noche (Sonnets 79-100)
- By night, Love, tie your heart to mine, and the two
- My love, I returned from travel and sorrow
- And now you’re mine. Rest with your dreams in my dream.
- As we close this nocturnal door, my love,
- It’s good to feel you close in the night, Love,
- Once again, Love, the day’s net extinguishes
- The vague fog flows from the sea towards the streets
- O Southern Cross, O clover of fragrant phosphorous:
- Three birds of the sea, three sunbeams, three scissors
- March returns with its secretive light,
- When I die, I want your hands on my eyes:
- I thought I was dying, I felt the cold up close
- Age covers us like drizzle;
- My love, if I die and you don’t—,
- If some time your breast pauses, if something stops
- If I die, survive me with such a pure force
- Whoever loved as we did? Let us hunt
- I think this time when you loved me
- These days, one must fly—but where to?
- And this word, this paper the thousand hands
- Other days will come, the silence
- In the center of the earth I will push aside
In popular culture
- In Tom Shadyac's 1998 movie Patch Adams, Sonnet XVII is used in different stages of the film, most notably in the climatic funeral scene.
- Sonnet XII is referenced in the 2002 Deepa Mehta film Bollywood/Hollywood when Rahul first meets Sue/Sunita in the bar, and later when he recites the poem in order to win the heroine in a Romeo and Juliet-esque balcony scene.
- Sonnet XXVII is recited and referenced in The Naked Man episode in the 4th series of How I Met Your Mother.
- Tapscott, Stephen. 100 Love Sonnets. Cien sonetos de amor, Austin: University of Texas Press, Texas Pan American Series, 1986, p. 17