“Gentleman Without Company” – Pablo Neruda

The homosexual young men and the love-mad girls,
and the long widows who suffer from a delirious inability to sleep,
and the young wives who have been pregnant for thirty hours,
and the hoarse cats that cross my garden in the dark,
these, like a necklace of throbbing sexual oysters,
surround my solitary house,
like enemies set up against my soul,
like members of a conspiracy dressed in sleeping clothes
who give each other as passwords long and profound kisses.

The shining summer leads out the lovers
in low-spirited regiments that are all alike,
made up of fat and thin and cheerful and sullen pairs;
under the elegant coconut palms, near the sea and the moon,
there is a steady movement of trousers and petticoats,
and a hum from the stroking of silk stockings,
and women’s breasts sparkling like eyes.

The small-time employee, after many things,
after the boredom of the week, and the novels read in bed at night,
has once and for all seduced the woman next door
and how he escorts her to the miserable movies,
where the heroes are either colts or passionate princes,
and he strokes her legs sheathed in their sweet down
with his warm and damp hands that smell of cigarettes

The evenings of the woman-chaser and the nights of the husbands
come together like two bed-sheets and bury me,
and the hours after lunch, when the young male students
and the young women students, and the priests are masturbating,
and the animals are riding each other frankly,
and the bees have an odor of blood, and the flies buzz in anger,
and cousins play strange games with their girl-cousins,
and doctors look with rage at the husband of the young patient,
and the morning hours, when the professor, as if absentminded,
performs his marital duty, and has breakfast,
and still more, the adulterers, who love each other with true love
of beds high and huge as ocean liners,
this immense forest, entangled and breathing,
hedges me around firmly on all sides forever
with huge flowers like mouths and rows of teeth
and black roots that look like fingernails and shoes.

tr. by Robert Bly

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