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Blog // Simplicity
October 3, 2011

El Mar

I need the sea because it teaches me is the opening line from a wonderful poem by Pablo Neruda

El Mar (The Sea) is one of my favourite poems by Pablo Neruda. It sums up so much of what I struggle to explain about my fascination with being close to water.

I’ve lived most of my life near the sea. I’m most at peace near the water – not so much the beautiful vistas of tourist beaches. But, more often the windswept expanses and harsh rocky coastlines that speak to the unfathomable power of the ocean.

This is the poem, Spanish version first, followed by my English translation.

El Mar

Necesito del mar porque me enseña:
no sé si aprendo música o conciencia:
no sé si es ola sola o ser profundo
o sólo ronca voz o deslumbrante
suposición de peces y navios.
El hecho es que hasta cuando estoy dormido
de algún modo magnético circulo
en la universidad del oleaje.

No son sólo las conchas trituradas
como si algún planeta tembloroso
participara paulatina muerte,
no, del fragmento reconstruyo el día,
de una racha de sal la estalactita
y de una cucharada el dios inmenso.

Lo que antes me enseñó lo guardo! Es aire,
incesante viento, agua y arena.

Parece poco para el hombre joven
que aquí llegó a vivir con sus incendios,
y sin embargo el pulso que subía
y bajaba a su abismo,
el frío del azul que crepitaba,
el desmoronamiento de la estrella,
el tierno desplegarse de la ola
despilfarrando nieve con la espuma,
el poder quieto, allí, determinado
como un trono de piedra en lo profundo,
substituyó el recinto en que crecían
tristeza terca, amontonando olvido,
y cambió bruscamente mi existencia:
di mi adhesión al puro movimiento.

The Sea

I need the sea because it teaches me:
I don’t know if I learn music or consciousness:
I don’t know if it’s a single wave or deep depth
or a hoarse voice or a shining
suggestion of ships and fish.
The fact is that even when I’m asleep
in some magnetic mode I move
in the university of waves.

It’s not only the crushed shells
like some shivering planet
participating in a gradual death,
no, from the fragment I reconstruct the day,
from one grain of salt the stalactite
and from one spoon the immense god.

What it taught me before I keep! It’s air,
incessant wind, water and sand.

It seems insignificant to a young man
that came here to live with his own fire
yet the pulse that rose
then fell into its abyss,
the sputtering blue cold,
the gradual fading of a star,
the gentle unfolding of the wave
wasting snow with its foam,
the still power, out there, resolute
like a stone shrine in the depths,
replaced my territory in which was growing
hardening sorrow, mounds of oblivion
and my life changed suddenly:
I gave my commitment to pure movement.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like other things I’ve written about poetry and spirituality, such as The Road Not Taken and Infinite Games And Finding Your Path In Life.

Responses
Amelia Martinez 10 years ago

Alo, Me ha parecido increible este comentario. Puedes seguir escribiendo cosas asi. Te publico mi blog para que lo leas y me digas que opines porfa . Bye, Amelia

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