Death Alone


Pablo Neruda

There are lonely cemeteries,

graves full of bones without sound,

the heart passing through a tunnel,

dark, dark, dark,

as in a shipwreck we die from within

as we drown in the heart,

as we fall out of the skin into the soul.

There are corpses,

there are feet of cold, sticky clay,

there is death within bones,

like pure sound,

like barking without dogs,

emanating from several bells, from several graves,

swelling in the humidity like tears or rain.

I see, alone, at times

coffins with sails,

bearing away pallid dead, women with dead tresses,

bakers white as angels,

pensive girls married to public notaries,

coffins ascending the vertical river of the dead,

the purple river,

upstream, with sails filled by the sound of death,

filled by the silent sound of death.

To the sonorous shore death arrives

like a shoe without a foot, like a suit without a man,

arrives to knock with a stoneless, fingerless ring,

arrives to shout without a mouth, without a tongue, without a throat.

Still its steps echo,

and its clothing echoes, hushed, like a tree.

I do not know, I understand but little, I scarcely see,

but I think that its song has the color of humid violets,

of violets accustomed to the soil,

for the face of death is green,

with the penetrating moisture of a violet leaf

and its sombre color of exasperated winter.

But death also goes through the world disguised as a broom

lapping the floor, in search of the dead,

death is in the broom,

is the tongue of death seeking the dead,

is the needle of death seeking the thread.

Death is in the folding cots;

in the slow mattresses, in the black blankets

it lives supine, and suddenly it blows:

it blows up a dismal sound that swells up the sheets;

and the beds go sailing toward a port

where death is waiting, dressed like an admiral.


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