October 9, 2009

Merwin and Neruda

Merwin reads his poem "Yesterday" in this excerpt of video from the Bill Moyers programs on poetry recorded at the Dodge Poetry Festivals. (You should watch it all - but Merwin appears at the 5:30 point in the video.)

The poem is the model for our October writing prompt at Poets Online.

But, lest you think Merwin to be a cold poet based on this one poem, I would also recommend his translation of Pablo Neruda's poetry.





It's a collection that Neruda published at the age of 19 (in 1924) and that was considered scandalous then and, in this translation, its intense sexuality is intact.

Samples:

I have gone marking the atlas of your body
with crosses of fire.
My mouth went across: a spider, trying to hide.
In you, behind you, timid, driven by thirst.


and

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
Like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

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