How neatly a cat sleeps,
sleeps with its paws and its posture,
sleeps with its wicked claws,
and with its unfeeling blood,
sleeps with all the rings--
a series of burnt circles--
which have formed the odd geology
of its sand-colored tail.
I should like to sleep like a cat,
with all the fur of time,
with a tongue rough as flint,
with the dry sex of fire;
and after speaking to no one,
stretch myself over the world,
over roofs and landscapes,
with a passionate desire
to hunt the rats in my dreams.
I have seen how the cat asleep
would undulate, how the night
flowed through it like dark water;
and at times, it was going to fall
or possibly plunge into
the bare deserted snowdrifts.
Sometimes it grew so much in sleep
like a tiger's great-grandfather,
and would leap in the darkness over
rooftops, clouds and volcanoes.
Sleep, sleep cat of the night,
with episcopal ceremony
and your stone-carved moustache.
Take care of all our dreams;
control the obscurity
of our slumbering prowess
with your relentless heart
and the great ruff of your tail.
Translated by Alastair Reid
I bought The House in the Sand today, which gave me the idea of starting this thread. My first contact with Neruda's writings was actually his autobiography, one of the best I've read in my life. But the great introduction to him was in fact the Italian movie The Postman.
His poetry I discovered some time later. I started with Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, which didn't hold my attention as much as I expected. But I persevered and this new collection of poems seems far more interesting.
What do people here think of the Chilean poet?