Do You See?

Neruda: “The same night whitening the same trees”

First, this. For I fear it’s relevance will be lost if I say it later.

Yesterday, I saw a family of oystercatchers on the bridge over Airthrey Loch on the campus. Five of them – orange-footed, slender-beaked, black and white coated. The younger birds still had some shades of grey. Wish I could keep a picture but even if I had my camera with me, I’d probably be just staring at them. Sometimes, the eyes remember better than a mechanical lens does. And they flew away down to the loch as clumsy humans approached.

This was after my late evening walk which I took partly with “I” who I chanced upon during my round. “I” is a jolly nice guy who teaches in the education department — and sometimes works rather late, even on a Saturday — here at U of Stirling. So, “I” and I had a  lovely walk and chatted about several things before I saw those amazing birds.

Part of my “wildlife” repertory.



A photograph is doing the rounds on web, hopefully not a morphed one. Hardly matters though, because it’s only a wall with a line (“I want to do with you what spring does with cherry trees”) scribbled on it, in black and white. In Spanish. A line by Pablo Neruda who never goes out of vogue.

That made me read the English version again, and then made me go on to read another English version of his much celebrated poem “Tonight I can write the saddest lines“.

Let me tell you an anecdote here.

Last summer when I was at the NYS writing residency at Saratoga Springs, Skidmore College, our “sonnet-poet” AS delighted us by reciting the original Spanish “Tonight I can write the saddest lines”, entirely from memory. He did it more than once, on request from lovely ladies who obviously loved it. Here’re the first few lines in Spanish:


Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Escribir, por ejemplo : ‘La noche está estrellada,
y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos’.
El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.
Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.


My favorite line in this poem is “The same night whitening the same trees”…

Now, AS had a brilliant recitation style; and his Spanish was quite good I presume, for everyone said so. Besides, he said the poem while looking at his audience more or less directly, and the result seemed to be rather mesmerising. I’ve had confidential confessions that the listener thought AS was reciting “Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche” ONLY for her!

After all, this particular poem is a hot favorite of folks prone to heartaches. Just saying!

My theory is, Neruda’s poetry is just smashing. It makes you feel it. That’s what great poetry is supposed to be like. And a good reading/recitation always enhances its depth and beauty. Since I don’t have AS on record, here’s a video of the said poem, read by Andy Garcia. Quite good. Have a listen:



Clarification: I’m not posting this because of any heartache issues.  Didn’t Neruda say already: “Love is so short, forgetting is so long”?

Ah, and here’s the photograph I mentioned earlier, the one that lead me down this winding poetry path:




My mother asks me on the phone: “What fruits do the Scots eat?” Her point is, am I eating enough fruits or not. But the next question — “Do they eat mangoes?” — makes me yell at her. Stop, mom!


11 comments on “Neruda: “The same night whitening the same trees”

  1. Mihir Vatsa
    June 3, 2012

    In one of the Ramjas Hostel’s rooms, there was the same cherry tree line written on the wall. Then they painted it, and I left. 🙂

  2. Do You See
    June 3, 2012

    I see. So you left Ramjas Hostel in protest, MV?

    Do you like the Andy Garcia reading, or the poem itself? I’ve been crazy about Neruda ever since I was 12.

    • Mihir Vatsa
      June 5, 2012

      melikes the poem. And no, I didn’t leave in protest. Just that those two incidents happened in a very short interval, so it kind of feels good and revolutionary to put it that way! 😉

      • Do You See
        June 5, 2012

        You should see School of Planning and Architecture’s dorms. The walls are done with such stunning graffiti. They have a year-end competition of sorts among the SPA folks… Hope it’s still done.

  3. kefir culture starter
    June 3, 2012

    culture milk beverage Henry Ward Beecher|Whenever you see a gaming table be sure to know fortune is not there. Rather she is always in the company of industry. – Goldsmith, Oliver|You know horses are smarter than people. You never heard of a horse going broke betting on people. – Will Rogers|Cards were at first for benefits designed, Sent to amuse, not to enslave the mind. – David Garrick|Talk to me baby, I know you understand my needs. -Roger Fleming|No wife can endure a gambling husband, unless he is a steady winner.

  4. Do You See
    June 4, 2012

    The above comment is a spam. I deliberately approved it because it reads really interesting! E.g. “never heard of a horse going broke betting on people” — classic!

    • Mihir Vatsa
      June 5, 2012

      A spam with a supposedly Oliver Goldsmith’s quote.

  5. rohith003
    June 5, 2012

    I remember rreading this poem to the sky and stars of night standing on the top of terrace when i was in my 7th standard. It was at those times
    when i was in love( i know that is more for a boy studying 7th class…but it was of great fun in those And this poem is so wonderful that..the I andI talks of eveninh during hitchhiking became the I and Neruda talks. I must say…it is from that time that i started writing poetry.

    And yes…Nabina…you shouldcollext all these blog posts and make it to autobiography.

    • Do You See
      June 5, 2012

      Rohith! I’m not old enough or renegade enough to write an autobiography yet…but thanks! Basically my poetry posts are done with the hope that someone will read and discuss them somewhere. I mix it all with vague personal references at times. Can’t see poetry separate from what I normally do…

      7th standard, Neruda, love? Well, if you’ve been that precocious, then read my latest post of Kenneth Koch’s poetry. Especially because you write, and I know you’re probably working on some submissions these days, carefully note Koch’s style. The images, the idiom, the contemporary cynical but well meaning slant…

      • rohith003
        June 6, 2012

        ‘Cant see poetry separate from what i normally do…’
        This statement this statement just reminded me Neruda’s quote that is in the back of my book ‘selected poems-Neruda’
        ‘i have never thought of my life as divided between poetry and politics’

        Yes! I will check that post. ThanQ

      • rohith003
        June 6, 2012

        And hey! Precocious is a funny word…and an absolutely opposite word may suit me.

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