Pablo Neruda: Atacama


Insufferable voice, disseminated
salt, substituted
ash, black bouquet
on whose extreme dewdrop the blind moon
rises, through grieving galleries of copper.
What matter, what hollow swan
plunges its naked agony into the sand
and hardens its slow liquid light?
What hard thunderbolt shatters its emerald
amid the indomitable stones until
the lost salt congeals?
Land, land
above the sea, above the air, above the gallop
of the horsewoman full of coral:
heaping granary where wheat
sleeps in the bells’ tremulous root:
O mother of the ocean!, maker
of blind jasper and golden silica:
upon your pure skin of bread, far from the forest,
nothing but your secret lines,
nothing but mankind’s days and nights,
but beside the thistle’s thirst, where
there’s a submerged and forgotten paper, a stone
marks the deep cradles of sword and cup,
indicates the calcium’s sleeping feet.

—Pablo Neruda (Jack Schmitt trans.)

Mano del Desierto / Hand of the Desert by Mario Irarrázabal.


2 comments on “Pablo Neruda: Atacama

  1. Stefanie says:

    Beautiful poem. I love Neruda. And what a great sculpture too!

  2. Sylvia says:

    I thought they seemed appropriate under the circumstances!

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