Past

by Pablo Neruda


Original Language Spanish

We have to discard the past
and, as one builds
floor by floor, window by window,
and the building rises,
so do we go on throwing down
first, broken tiles,
then pompous doors,
until out of the past
dust rises
as if to crash
against the floor,
smoke rises
as if to catch fire,
and each new day
it gleams
like an empty
plate.
There is nothing, there is always nothing.
It has to be filled
with a new, fruitful
space,
then downward
tumbles yesterday
as in a well
falls yesterday's water,
into the cistern
of all still without voice or fire.
It is difficult to teach bones
to disappear,
to teach eyes
to close
but
we do it
unrealizing.
It was all alive,
alive, alive, alive
like a scarlet fish
but time
passed over its dark cloth
and the flash of the fish
drowned and disappeared.
Water water water
the past goes on falling
still a tangle
of bones
and of roots;
it has been, it has been, and now
memories mean nothing.
Now the heavy eyelid
covers the light of the eye
and what was once living
now no longer lives;
what we were, we are not.
And with words, although the letters
still have transparency and sound,
they change, and the mouth changes;
the same mouth is now another mouth;
they change, lips, skin, circulation;
another being has occupied our skeleton;
what once was in us now is not.
It has gone, but if the call, we reply;
"I am here," knowing we are not,
that what once was, was and is lost,
is lost in the past, and now will not return.

<<Previous Poem | More Poems by Pablo Neruda | Next Poem >>


View All Poems by Pablo Neruda



Recommended Books: Pablo Neruda

The Book of Questions Neruda: Selected Poems On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea Pablo Neruda: Selected Poems Extravagaria: A Bilingual Edition
More Books >>





Past