November Embers

A leaf. Aflame.
Photo credits here.

I like the idea of November being full of embers, fall just feels like all the world’s aflame with the seasons as they change. The imagery of fire colors the language we use to talk about love, too. Love’s an all-consuming passion, a flame that blazes out of control and threatens to burn us if we’re not careful.

Which brings my thoughts to the phrase “It’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all” (from the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson) as it’s often told to those who find themselves remorseful over some loss. However, whenever you let yourself love, it is impossible to lose. Loss is a selfish delusion because try as you might, you can’t shake your past or how it has affected you thus far in your life. Many people will use their perceived missed opportunities as their excuse to block the possibility of finding something new, and indeed there is no worse blindness than refusing to see.

Hope is the heart of love. Every relationship has to start somewhere, and we often think of good relationships like winning lottery tickets. We tell ourselves, “they got lucky” but the truth is, so can you. If your goal is to climb Mount Everest, you’re going to have to start preparing for it at some point. Reality is great because it grounds us, but stifling your desire to soar will lead you to finding yourself in situations where you’ve settled – and settling is ultimately something that we don’t want, because as curious creatures it’s in our nature to seek out novelty.

With love on my mind, it seemed only natural to translate another Pablo Neruda poem. It captures how I visualize the emotion, because when you know someone long enough, you begin operating as one entity. It’s why with your close friends you can just look at each other and laugh without saying anything, because the foundation of the friendship forges ties that neither time nor space can erase.

Poema Quince (XIV) / Poem Fifteen
Spanish English
Me gustas cuando callas porque estás como ausente,
y me oyes desde lejos, y mi voz no te toca.
Parece que los ojos se te hubieran volado
y parece que un beso te cerrara la boca.

Como todas las cosas están llenas de mi alma
emerges de las cosas, llena del alma mía.
Mariposa de sueño, te pareces a mi alma,
y te pareces a la palabra melancolía.

Me gustas cuando callas y estás como distante.
Y estás como quejándote, mariposa en arrullo.
Y me oyes desde lejos, y mi voz no te alcanza:
déjame que me calle con el silencio tuyo.

Déjame que te hable también con tu silencio
claro como una lámpara, simple como un anillo.
Eres como la noche, callada y constelada.
Tu silencio es de estrella, tan lejano y sencillo.

Me gustas cuando callas porque estás como ausente.
Distante y dolorosa como si hubieras muerto.
Una palabra entonces, una sonrisa bastan.
Y estoy alegre, alegre de que no sea cierto.

I like you when you’re silent because it’s like you’re absent,
and you me hear from afar, and my voice does not touch you.
It seems as if your eyes have flown away from you
and it seems as if a single kiss would close your mouth.

Like all the things which are filled with my soul
you emerge from all these things, full of my soul.
Butterfly of sleep, to me you look like my soul,
and you look like the word melancholy.

I like you when you’re silent and it’s like you’re distant.
And it’s like you’re discontent, butterfly in a lullaby.
And you hear me from afar, and my voice cannot reach you:
let it be possible for me to be shushed by your silence.

Let it be possible for me speak to you with silence as well
Illuminating like a lamp, straighforward like a ring.
You are like the night, quiet and full of constellations.
Your silence is like a star’s, so distant and pure.

I like you when you’re silent because it’s like you’re absent.
A distant and painful thought like contemplating your death.
A single word then, a smile is more than enough.
And I am happy, so happy that it is not true.
PABLO NERUDA (via my translation)

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