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Neruda’s ‘Enigmas’

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You’ve asked me what the lobster is weaving there with his golden feet?
I reply, the ocean knows this.
You say, what is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent bell?
What is it waiting for?
I tell you it is waiting for time, like you.
You ask me whom the Macrocystis alga hugs in its arms?
Study, study it, at a certain hour, in a certain sea I know.
You question me about the wicked tusk of the narwhal,
and I reply by describing
how the sea unicorn with the harpoon in it dies.
You enquire about the kingfisher’s feathers,
which tremble in the pure springs of the southern tides?
Or you’ve found in the cards a new question touching on the crystal architecture
of the sea anemone, and you’ll deal that to me now?
You want to understand the electric nature of the ocean spines?
The armored stalactite that breaks as it walks?
The hook of the angler fish, the music stretched out
in the deep places like a thread in the water?

(Read the rest at Poem Hunter . . . )

Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto (Pablo Neruda), Enigmas in: Canto general (1950) (R. Bly transl.)

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