I Ask For Silence by Pablo Neruda

by Catherine Chiu

Now they leave me in peace.
Now they grow used to my absence.

I am going to close my eyes.

I wish for five things only,
five chosen touchstones.

One is perpetual love.

The second is to see the autumn.
I cannot exist without leaves
flying and falling to earth.

The third is the solemn winter,
the rain I loved, the caress
of fire in the rough cold.

Fourthly, the summer,
plump as a watermelon.

And, fifth, your eyes.
Matilda, my dear love,
I will not sleep without your eyes.
I will not exist but in your gaze.
I adjust the spring
for you to follow me with your eyes.

That, friends, is the sum of my wanting.
Next to nothing, close to everything.

Now they may go if they wish.

I have lived so much that someday
they will have to forget me forcibly,
rubbing me off the blackboard.
My heart was inexhaustible.

But because I ask for silence,
never think I am going to die.
The opposite is true.
It happens I am going to live –

to be, and to go on being.

I will not be, however, if, inside me,
the crop does not keep sprouting,
the shoots first, breaking through the earth
to reach the light;
but the mothering earth is dark,
and, deep inside me, I am dark.
I am a well in the water of which
the night leaves stars behind
and goes on alone across fields.

It’s a question of having lived so much
that I wish to live that much more.

I never felt my voice so clear,
never have been so rich in kisses.

Now, as always, it is early.
The shifting light is a swarm of bees.

Let me alone with the day.
I ask leave to be born.

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