Pablo Neruda: “A Gentleman Alone”

A Gentleman Alone

Young homosexuals and girls in heat,
fat widows suffering from fevered insomnias,
young wives newly pregnant for just thirty hours,
lewd tomcats crossing my garden in darkness
like a collar of quivering sexual oysters …

… They all come around to surround my lonely home,
like enemies plotting the downfall of my spirit,
conspirators dressed in bedroom disguises,
exchanging long kisses in place of passwords.

Radiant summer leads a parade of lovers
dressed in their sad regimental uniforms,
a parade of fat thin happy dreary couples.
And under the elegant coconut palms,
in proximity to both the moon and the sea,
the incessant swarm of pants and skirts keeps buzzing,
with the hum of silk stockings lasciviously fondled
and female breasts shining as brilliant as eyes.

The insignificant employee, after all he’s been through,
after a tedious week and nights of novels read in bed,
has definitively seduced his next-door neighbor,
and he now takes her out to miserable movies,
where the heroes are horses or passionate princes,
in a theater where he strokes the soft hairs on her legs
with insistent, sweaty palms that smell of cigarettes.

The sunsets of seducers and the nights of spouses
all come together like funeral cloths to enshroud me,
and the hours after lunch, when priests and students masturbate,
and the animals mount each other in plain sight,
and the bees smell of blood, and the flies buzz with anger,
and boys play strange games with their female cousins,
and the doctors stare in envy at the young patient’s husband,
and the early morning hours when the mindless professor
fulfills his husbandly duties of sex and breakfast,
and on top of all this, the adulterers, who truly love each other
on beds that are tall and wide as ships …

… This whole great breathing twisted forest enfolds me,
for certain, forever,
its giant flowers blooming like mouths and teeth
its black roots attaching like fingernails and shoes.

Pablo Neruda

Translated from Spanish by Paul Weinfield, © 2013

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