If I die,
survive me with such sheer force that you waken the furies of the pallid and the cold,
from south to south lift your indelible eyes,
from sun to sun dream through your singing mouth.
I don’t want your laughter or your steps to waver,
I don’t want my heritage of joy to die.
Don’t call up my person. I am absent.
Live in my absence as if in a house.
Absence is a house so vast
that inside you will pass through its walls
and hang pictures on the air
Absence is a house so transparent
that I, lifeless, will see you, living,
and if you suffer, my love, I will die again.
– Sonnet XCIV
When I die, I want your hands on my eyes:
I want the light and the wheat of your beloved hands
to pass their freshness over me once more:
I want to feel the softness that changed my destiny.
I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep.
I want your ears still to hear the wind, I want you
to sniff the sea’s aroma that we loved together,
to continue to walk on the sand we walk on.
I want what I love to continue to live,
and you whom I love and sang above everything else
to continue to flourish, full-flowered:
so that you can reach everything my love directs you to,
so that my shadow can travel along in your hair,
so that everything can learn the reason for my song.
My love, if you die and I don’t–,
let’s not give grief an even greater field.
No expanse is greater than where we live.
Dust in the wheat, sand in the deserts,
time, wandering water, the vague wind
swept us like sailing seeds.
We might not have found one another in time.
This meadow where we find ourselves,
O little infinity! we give it back.
But Love, this love has not ended:
just as it never had a birth, it has
no death: it is like a long river,
only changing lands, and changing lips.
[The poem has been set to music by the composer Peter Lieberson and sung by his wife, the great mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. You can hear it here:
— Sonnet XCII
100 Love Sonnets of Pablo Neruda