Poem Number 20
by Pablo Neruda
I can write the saddest poems tonight. Perhaps write “It’s a starry, starry night, and the stars shimmer, azure, in the distance.”
In the sky the swirling night wind sings.
I can write the saddest poems tonight. I loved her and sometimes she loved me.
On nights like this I held her in my arms. Time and again, beneath the endless sky I kissed her.
She loved me and sometimes I loved her. How not to have loved her large quiet eyes?
I can write the saddest poems tonight. Realizing I don’t have her. Sensing that I’ve lost her.
Hearing the vast night, measureless without her. Verses lighting on my soul like dew on pasture.
Why does it matter if my love couldn’t hold her? It’s a starry, starry night and she’s not with me.
That’s all. In the distance, someone sings. In the distance. My soul can’t contend with having lost her.
As if to draw her near my gaze seeks her. My heart seeks her, and she’s not here with me.
The same night that bleaches the same trees. We, the two who were are no longer the same.
True, I no longer love her, but I loved her so much then. My voice sought the wind, her ear to caress.
Another’s. She’ll be another’s. As she was before my kisses. Her voice, her pale body. Her boundless eyes.
I no longer love her, that’s true, although perhaps I do. Love is so short and forgetting is so long.
Because, on nights like this I had her in my arms, my soul can’t contend with having lost her.
Even should this be the last pain she brings me, and these the last verses I write her.
 Translation © Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Ocala, Florida 2006; all rights reserved