Thursday, October 2, 2008

I've been reading prose and poetry by Eng and Neruda

Nominated for
"This remarkable debut saga of intrigue and akido flashes back to a darkly opulent WWII-era Malaya. ...measured, believable and enthralling."
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

I can't stop thinking about Phillip Houston the main character and narrator of this book. I can't stop wondering if he is sitting in his house overlooking the sea or if he has passed away. I wonder what the sea looks like today from his house on the hill.

Phillip Houston's story is so engrossing. His father was British, his mother Chinese. He grew up on Malaya. He was not fully either of these three cultures. He befriended a Japanese man who was his sensai, his teacher of akido. The man rented the island Phillip could see from his house on the mainland. Who would he be loyal to when the war broke out and the Japanese invaded the country of his birth: his family, his country, his teacher, his heritage?

The book is full of memorable lyric writing and wonderful descriptions of a time and place full of turbulence and personal anguish before and during WW II.

Read an interview with Tan Twan Eng

Chilean Poet Noble Prize winner 1971 Pablo Neruda

The sea is often mentioned in the poetry of Neruda. I especially love his Odes and erotic love poems.

"Si Tu Me Olvidas"
By Pablo Neruda

En Español:
(In Spanish)

Quiero que sepas
una cosa.

Tú sabes cómo es esto:
si miro
la luna de cristal, la rama roja
del lento otoño en mi ventana,
si toco
junto al fuego
la impalpable ceniza
o el arrugado cuerpo de la leña,
todo me lleva a ti,
como si todo lo que existe:
aromas, luz, metales,
fueran pequeños barcos que navegan
hacia las islas tuyas que me aguardan.

Ahora bien,
si poco a poco dejas de quererme
dejaré de quererte poco a poco.

Si de pronto
me olvidas
no me busques,
que ya te habré olvidado.

Si consideras largo y loco
el viento de banderas
que pasa por mi vida
y te decides
a dejarme a la orilla
del corazón en que tengo raíces,
que en esa día,
a esa hora
levantaré los brazos
y saldrán mis raíces
a buscar otra tierra.

si cada día,
cada hora,
sientes que a mí estás destinada
con dulzura implacable,
si cada día sube
una flor a tus labios a buscarme,
ay amor mío, ay mía,
en mí todo ese fuego se repite,
en mí nada se apaga ni se olvida,
mi amor se nutre de tu amor, amada,
y mientras vivas estará en tus brazos
sin salir de los míos.

"If You Forget Me"
By Pablo Neruda

In English:
(En Inglés

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists:
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loveing me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Read more
Odes Pablo Neruda

More About Pablo Neruda


author-author said...

What Neruda says about love is so excruciatingly true, isn't it, for most of us ordinary mortals? Pity some demand love without giving an ounce in return! We all need love dammit!

Ramesh Avadhani

Elizabeth said...

Hi Ramesh,

For Neruda love for the women in his life and love for his country and his ideology brought both pleasure and pain. I like the poems where the love worked for him.

"Pity some demand love without giving an ounce in return!"

Learning to love is not always easy, is it?