‘Don’t go far off’ by Pablo Neruda

Don’t go far off, not even for a day, because —
because — I don’t know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.

Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.

Don’t leave me for a second, my dearest,

because in that moment you’ll have gone so far
I’ll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?

I really love this poem by Pablo Neruda. I feel bad about not reading it in the original Spanish, but my Spanish is very rusty these days, so this translation will have to do. As it happens, I think this is a wonderful translation, that reads absolutely beautifully…

So, from what I have read by Neruda, it is his love poems that excite me most. I love so many of them that it is difficult to choose which one to post on here first. This poem is achingly gorgeous. I love the image in the first stanza where the poet waiting for his absent lover as in an empty station, “when the trains are off parked somewhere else, asleep”. What a sweet, unique image; without his lover, the speaker feels completely lost, with no way of getting back to her. I love the pleading “Don’t go far off”, “don’t leave me” and “don’t leave me for a second”, because it displays how desperate we can all become, when we are truly in love. In this poem, one lover, without the other, feels himself to be “dying”. It’s so dramatic, and I love that!

In the second stanza of this poem I particularly like the image of “the smoke that roams looking for a home” (which so beautifully embodies loneliness) choking the speaker if his lover ever stays away too long. Even “for a second”, if his lover leaves him, the speaker will begin to wander through the world, choking on loneliness, disbelief, and “dying”. I love the drama of this poem — it’s what really attracts me to Neruda’s work.

Reviewed by Emily Ardagh

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