For many of us our introduction to the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda came through the pink book of 100 Love Sonnets translated by Stephen Tapscott. I discovered Neruda at the same time my own romance blossomed with the one who would become my wife. I noticed that Tapscott’s translation glossed over words and expressions, often rearranging words and images to construct his idea of poetic, so my wife and I began our own translations. This is the opening sonnet. I’ve also included the original Spanish as well as the recent translation by Gustavo Escobedo whose “100 Love Sonnets” is far superior to Tapscott.
Matilde, the name of a plant or a rock or a wine,
which is born of the earth, and enduring;
a word in whose growth the dawn breaks,
In that name sail ships of wood
surrounded by the swarms of blue fire;
those letters are…
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