A dog has died today*

*Today, my dog did pass away. Needless to say, I’ll miss her terribly.

Good-bye. Farewell. Adios. There’s countless different ways to part ways, but the words attempt to grasp the same sentiment: we wish those we care about to not fall to harm until we are able to see them again. We hope that in their travels away from us, that they fare well, in Spanish (as I suppose is likely the case in other languages, too) the word can be broken down to literally read “a Dios” which could translate to “to God.” We cannot go with them and thus we must resign ourselves to hope for the best, and again I must observe that hay mucho esperanza en esperando, there is indeed altogether much hope in waiting.

Coping with death is I doubt rarely easy for anyone. I imagine that appreciating life would come much easier if we could all always remember that any moment could be our last. We spend so much time waiting for the “right time” to do certain things, but we are just hoping for a future that is not guaranteed. This ought to motivate us to act towards the goals we want to accomplish, because we only have one life to lead, and thus we should embrace it fully. We don’t know when we’ll go, but we can make sure our lives are led with meaning until that time comes.

With death, it seems that the sadness and tragedy we feel is really guilt over what it is we believe we left unsaid and undone with our loved one. We regret that we do not have any more time with them left, it brings our hopes to a crashing halt. I’ll admit I immediately wanted to beat myself up for not having done more for her, but then I stopped: she had had the good fortune of passing in her sleep. When I saw her, she looked to have been at peace. I reminded myself that she had lived eleven years, and they had been good years. She had been loved, and the pain I am feeling over her passing ought to really be gratitude. She was a sweet little dog, and I am fortunate enough to have had her enrich my life for as long as she did.

I’d come across this Neruda poem a long time ago, and loved how it grasps the raw emotion over the loss of a beloved pet. I’d intended to translate it at some point, but given the recent passing of my own dog, it seemed fitting to translate it for her memory’s sake. Here it is below:

Un perro ha muerto

Mi perro ha muerto.
Lo enterré en el jardín
junto a una vieja máquina oxidada.

Allí, no más abajo,
ni más arriba,
se juntará conmigo alguna vez.

Ahora él ya se fue con su pelaje,
su mala educación, su nariz fría.

Y yo, materialista que no cree
en el celeste cielo prometido
para ningún humano,
para este perro o para todo perro
creo en el cielo, sí, creo en un cielo
donde yo no entraré, pero él me espera
ondulando su cola de abanico
para que yo al llegar tenga amistades.

Ay no diré la tristeza en la tierra
de no tenerlo más por compañero
que para mí jamás fue un servidor.
Tuvo hacia mí la amistad de un erizo
que conservaba su soberanía,
la amistad de una estrella independiente
sin más intimidad que la precisa,
sin exageraciones:
no se trepaba sobre mi vestuario
llenándome de pelos o de sarna,
no se frotaba contra mi rodilla
como otros perros obsesos sexuales.

No, mi perro me miraba dándome la atención necesaria
la atención necesaria
para hacer comprender a un vanidoso
que siendo perro él,
con esos ojos, más puros que los míos,
perdía el tiempo, pero me miraba
con la mirada que me reservó
toda su dulce, su peluda vida,
su silenciosa vida,
cerca de mí, sin molestarme nunca,
y sin pedirme nada.

Ay cuántas veces quise tener cola
andando junto a él por las orillas del mar,
en el Invierno de Isla Negra,
en la gran soledad: arriba el aire
traspasando de pájaros glaciales
y mi perro brincando, hirsuto,
lleno de voltaje marino en movimiento:
mi perro vagabundo y olfatorio
enarbolando su cola dorada
frente a frente al Océano y su espuma.
alegre, alegre, alegre
como los perros saben ser felices,
sin nada más,
con el absolutismo de la naturaleza descarada.
No hay adiós a mi perro que se ha muerto.

Y no hay ni hubo mentira entre nosotros.
Ya se fue y lo enterré, y eso era todo.

—————————

PABLO NERUDA

A dog has died

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to an old and rusted machine.

There, not any more below,
or any less above,
we’ll join each other some time.

Although today he left with his fur,
his bad behavior, and his cold nose.

And I, a materialist who doesn’t believe
in the promised celestial heaven
for any person,
for this dog or every dog
I believe in heaven, yes, in a heaven
where I won’t enter, but he’ll wait
wagging his fan of a tail
so should I enter I’d have a friend.

There I won’t speak of the sadness felt
for losing him as a companion
he who was never a mere animal.
He had towards me a prickly friendship
as one who guards his identity,
the friendship of an independent star
no more intimacy than such,
without exaggerations:
he did not clamber all over my clothes
covering me with hair or dirt
he did not rub against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog gazed and gave me the necessary attention
the necessary attention
to make a vain person such as I see
that his being a dog,
with those eyes, much purer than mine,
lost the time, but he looked at me
with the gaze he reserved for me
his entire sweet, furry life,
his silent life,
near me, without ever bothering me,
and without asking me for anything.

How often I’ve wished to have a tail
wandering together along the coast,
in the Winter of Black Island,
in the vast solitude: in the sky above
glacial birds trespass
and my dog jumping, hairy,
full of the ocean current of movement:
my vagabond dog and scent
waving his golden tail
facing the Ocean and its foam.
happy, happy, happy,
as dogs know how to be happy,
with nothing more,
than the totality of nature
barefaced.
There’s no farewells for my dog.

And between us there exists no lies.
He is gone and I buried him, and that was all.

—————————

PABLO NERUDA (via my translation)

For you, Fifi.

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