For Neruda, For Allende, For Chile, For All
Don Pablo it's strange and noble
as the Spanish language
is strange and noble, and it's
Surrealistic in that wild Spanish
style extending back to "Don Quixote".
I have loved your work for years,
and admired you as a human entity,
but within the past month I've found
that the available translations
of your work are slipshod, and while
working furiously, (35 poems in 29 days),
there occurred the heart-stopping coup
of the Fascists in your country, and
the murder of your President, Senor Allende.
I have been planning this letter
for a few weeks to tell you that I now
love you as a man, and as a poet,
and I'm told it's too late: you "died"
three-or-four days ago, of "cancer",
while in "Protective Custody".
They will probably burn your books.
Don Pablo, I know that as a translator
of English literary works, you had
knowledge of how badly your own work
had been mistreated.
(The money rustles, the trees droop,
the crepuscular fading happens,
the rats work incessantly,
the rivers polluted and the indians,
the copper and the nitrate
once again accepted
by the powers of sustenance)
, and you are with Vallejo,
with Lorca, with Jimenez.
You are dead of politics and I have
finished "Estravagario" and
"Las Piedras De Chile". Now I begin
on "Plenos Poderes", on the grapes,
the ice, the stones, the enigmas.
Childlike and playful as you,
I will hold up my hand
like the boy with his hare
on the highway. In the dark.
9 / 27/ 73
The Tale of the Amazing Tramp
(Cherry Valley Editions 1977)