Posts Tagged ‘Merwin’

8918442My life is bliss.

It’s the second Saturday of the month in Benicia, California, and that means … the Benicia Library book-sale is in full swing! (God bless every dear, white-haired volunteer of the Friends of the Library forever and ever, amen.) I bought thirty-five books for $26.50. Whoo-hoo! And the books … I went straight to the sci-fi section and re-stocked up on some of Frank Herbert’s Dune masterpieces (mine are in storage in Colorado and I miss them!) as well as the prequels and sequels written by Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson (which I’ve not read before).

Then I moseyed on over to the poetry section where, well, I sucked up all the abundance of the seas! (Yes, that’s an allusion to Deuteronomy 33:19 … and why am I thinking of that? Probably because Gurney Halleck, a musician in Dune alludes to it, too …) Among the treasures that fell into my book bag were The Song of Roland, The Rubaiyat, Yeats,  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Berryman, Louise Erdrich … Alicia Suskin Ostriker’s The Volcano Sequence, Cecilia Woloch’s Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s The Unicorn and Other Poems … a couple of anthologies, Poetry Out Loud (2005), Muse of the Round Sky: Lyric Poetry of Ancient Greece (1969), and World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time (1998) as well as The Wordsworth Book of Love Poetry (1995). Ahem.

Novels were not forgotten! I got all the Narnia novels combined in one volume (yes, Aslan is on the move), a biography of Abelard and Heloise (the passion of two twelfth-century French lovers makes for such a powerful story in any version), and a novel by Nicholas Drayson called A Guide to the Birds of East Africa (and, I admit, I cried when I read the opening words, reminded of Uganda, where I was recently living, although this story is set in neighboring Kenya).

I got gift books that I’ve given away and will give away … oh, and a slim but marvelous volume by Neruda, a poet whom I love. When I brought home all these books and shared them with my mother and my sister, my sister Alice opened up the little Neruda anthology and read “The Vastness of Pines” in Spanish, presented here in translation, by W.S. Merwin.

“The Vastness of Pines”

Ah vastness of pines, murmur of waves breaking,
slow play of lights, solitary bell,
twilight falling in your eyes, toy doll,
earth-shell, in whom the earth sings!

In you the rivers sing and my soul flees in them
as you desire, and you send it where you will.
Aim my road on your bow of hope
and in a frenzy I will flee my flock of arrows.

On all sides I see your waist of fog,
and your silence hunts down my afflicted hours;
my kisses anchor, and my moist desire nests
in your arms of transparent stone.

Ah your mysterious voice that love tolls and darkens
in the resonant and dying evening!
Thus in the deep hours I have seen, over the fields,
the ears of wheat tolling in the mouth of the wind.

~ Pablo Neruda (trans. by W.S. Merwin)

Don’t you wish you were here? 😉

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