Pablo Neruda: “The Dead Woman”

The Dead Woman

If suddenly you no longer exist,
if suddenly you no longer live,
I will live on.

I hesitate,
I dare not write it,
“If you die.”

I will live on.

For where a man has lost his voice,
there is my voice.

Where black men are beaten,
I cannot be dead yet.
When my brothers go to prison
I must go there too.

When victory,
not my victory,
but the great victory comes,
even if I am mute,
I’ll have no choice but to speak:
even if I am blind,
I will see the day come.

No, forgive me.
If you no longer live,
if you, my love, if you
have died,
all the leaves will fall within my chest,
it will rain on my soul both day and night,
snow will burn in my heart,
I will walk with frost and fire
and death and snow,
and my feet will want to find you wherever you lie sleeping,
but I will stay alive,
because more than anything else
you wanted me unconquerable,
and, my love, because you know
I’m not only a man
but all mankind.

Pablo Neruda

Translated from Spanish by Paul Weinfield, © 2015

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