Interlitq publishes the translation of Pablo Neruda’s “Oda al Tiempo” (Ode to Time) by Paul Scott Derrick, a contributor to Issue 9 and Issue 11 of Interlitq


from Elemental Odes, 1954


Ode to Time


Inside of you, your growing


inside of me, my passing


Time is decided,

its bell doesn’t ring,

it slowly flows, advancing

inside of us both.

It’s there,

like a quiet pool

in your eyes

and, beneath their

burnished chestnut,

a splinter, the trace

of a tiny stream,

a dry little star

ascending to your lips.

Time may draw

its threads

through your hair,

but in my heart

you will always bring the fragrance

of the honeysuckle vine,

as vivid as living fire.

How lovely it is

to grow old living

all that we’ve lived.

Every day

was transparent stone,

every night

for us, was a deeply shadowed rose.

And this line on your face, or mine,

are flowers or stone,

the fossil of a lightning-flash.

My eyes have been spent on your loveliness,

but then, you are my eyes.

Maybe I’ve tired your duplicate breasts

with my kisses,

but the world has seen your secret splendor

in my joy.

What do we care, my love,

if time,

who raised like double flames

or parallel stalks

my body and your sweetness,

should guard them tomorrow

or strip them away

and with its invisible fingers

erase this identity that keeps us apart

giving us the victory

of a single final soul beneath the sod.



from Odas Elementales, 1954


Oda al tiempo


Dentro de ti tu edad


dentro de mi me edad


El tiempo es decidido,

no suena su campana,

se acrecienta, camina,

por dentro de nosotros,


como un agua profunda

en la mirada

y junto a las castañas

quemadas de tus ojos

una brizna, la huella

de un minúsculo río,

una estrellita seca

ascendiendo a tu boca.

Sube el tiempo

sus hilos

a tu pelo,

pero en mi corazón

como una madreselva

es tu fragancia,

viviente como el fuego.

Es bello

como lo que vivimos

envejecer viviendo.

Cada día

fue piedra transparente,

cada noche

para nosotros fue rosa negra,

y este surco en tu rostro o en el mío

son piedra o flor,

recuerdo de un relámpago.

mis ojos se han gastado en tu hermosura,

pero tú eres mis ojos.

Yo fatigué tal vez bajo mis besos

tu pecho duplicado,

pero todos han visto en mi alegría

tu resplandor secreto.

Amor, que importa

que el tiempo,

el mismo que elevó como dos llamas

o espigas paralelas

mi cuerpo y tu dulzura,

mañana los mantenga

o los desgrane

y con sus mismos dedos invisibles

borre la identidad que nos separa

dándonos la victoria

de un solo ser final bajo la tierra.



About Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). Pablo Neruda, whose real name is Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, was born on 12 July, 1904, in the town of Parral in Chile. His father was a railway employee and his mother, who died shortly after his birth, a teacher. Some years later his father, who had then moved to the town of Temuco, remarried doña Trinidad Candia Malverde. The poet spent his childhood and youth in Temuco, where he also got to know Gabriela Mistral, head of the girls’ secondary school, who took a liking to him. At the early age of thirteen he began to contribute some articles to the daily “La Mañana”, among them, Entusiasmo y Perseverancia – his first publication – and his first poem. In 1920, he became a contributor to the literary journal “Selva Austral” under the pen name of Pablo Neruda, which he adopted in memory of the Czechoslovak poet Jan Neruda (1834-1891). Some of the poems Neruda wrote at that time are to be found in his first published book: Crepusculario (1923). The following year saw the publication of Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada, one of his best-known and most translated works. Alongside his literary activities, Neruda studied French and pedagogy at the University of Chile in Santiago.

Between 1927 and 1935, the government put him in charge of a number of honorary consulships, which took him to Burma, Ceylon, Java, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Madrid. His poetic production during that difficult period included, among other works, the collection of esoteric surrealistic poems, Residencia en la tierra (1933), which marked his literary breakthrough.

The Spanish Civil War and the murder of García Lorca, whom Neruda knew, affected him strongly and made him join the Republican movement, first in Spain, and later in France, where he started working on his collection of poems España en el Corazón (1937). The same year he returned to his native country, to which he had been recalled, and his poetry during the following period was characterised by an orientation towards political and social matters. España en el Corazón had a great impact by virtue of its being printed in the middle of the front during the civil war.

In 1939, Neruda was appointed consul for the Spanish emigration, residing in Paris, and, shortly afterwards, Consul General in Mexico, where he rewrote his Canto General de Chile, transforming it into an epic poem about the whole South American continent, its nature, its people and its historical destiny. This work, entitled Canto General, was published in Mexico 1950, and also underground in Chile. It consists of approximately 250 poems brought together into fifteen literary cycles and constitutes the central part of Neruda’s production. Shortly after its publication, Canto General was translated into some ten languages. Nearly all these poems were created in a difficult situation, when Neruda was living abroad.

In 1943, Neruda returned to Chile, and in 1945 he was elected senator of the Republic, also joining the Communist Party of Chile. Due to his protests against President González Videla’s repressive policy against striking miners in 1947, he had to live underground in his own country for two years until he managed to leave in 1949. After living in different European countries he returned home in 1952. A great deal of what he published during that period bears the stamp of his political activities; one example is Las Uvas y el Viento (1954), which can be regarded as the diary of Neruda’s exile. In Odas elementales (1954- 1959) his message is expanded into a more extensive description of the world, where the objects of the hymns – things, events and relations – are duly presented in alphabetic form.

Neruda’s production is exceptionally extensive. For example, his Obras Completas, constantly republished, comprised 459 pages in 1951; in 1962 the number of pages was 1,925, and in 1968 it amounted to 3,237, in two volumes. Among his works of the last few years can be mentioned Cien sonetos de amor (1959), which includes poems dedicated to his wife Matilde Urrutia, Memorial de Isla Negra, a poetic work of an autobiographic character in five volumes, published on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, Arte de pajáros (1966), La Barcarola (1967), the play Fulgor y muerte de Joaquín Murieta (1967), Las manos del día (1968), Fin del mundo (1969), Las piedras del cielo (1970), and La espada encendida.


About Paul Scott Derrick: Paul Scott Derrick is a Senior Lecturer of American literature at the University of Valencia, Spain. His main field of interest is Romanticism and American Transcendentalism and their manifestations in the art and thought of the 20th and 21st centuries. His critical works include: Thinking for a Change: Gravity’s Rainbow and Symptoms of the Paradigm Shift in Occidental Culture (1994) and “We stand before the secret of the world”: Traces along the Pathway of American Romanticism (2003). He has co-edited several critical studies, including: Modernism Revisited: Transgressing Boundaries and Strategies of Renewal in American Poetry, with Viorica Patea (Rodopi, 2007); and with Norman Jope and Catherine E. Byfield, The Salt Companion to Richard Berengarten (Salt Publishing, 2011). As a translator, he has published bilingual English-Spanish editions of a number of works by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Adams and Emily Dickinson and has co-authoredand co-translated, with Juan López Gavilán, a critical Spanish edition of Sarah Orne Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs [La tierra de los abetos puntiagudos] (2008). He has also published translations into English of poems by Jorge de Montemayor, Luis Cernuda, Pablo Neruda and Jorge Luis Borges. He is coordinating a critical study and translation into Spanish of Emily Dickinson’s fascicles and is currently preparing, with Miguel Teruel, a Spanish version of Richard Berengarten’s Black Light.

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