Sunday, January 31, 2021

Pablo Neruda — Song of Love to Stalingrad (1942)

Pablo Neruda, the emblematic communist Chilean poet and diplomat — one of the 20th century's most influential Latin American cultural figures was significantly inspired by the heroism of the Soviet people in the Second World War. He was particularly impressed by the brave struggle of the defenders of Stalingrad in a battle that played a decisive role in the outcome of the war. 

In 1942, Pablo Neruda wrote the "Song of Love to Stalingrad" (Canto de Amor a Stalingrado), praising the bravery of the Red Army and the Soviet people. What follows is a English translation of this extroardinary poem:

 Song Love to Stalingrad
By Pablo Neruda

I wrote about time and water,
described its mourning and purple metal,
I wrote about the sky and the apple,
now I write about Stalingrad.

The bride already save in her handkerchief
the ray of my love in-love,
now, my heart is on the ground,
in the smoke and light of Stalingrad.

I touched with my hands the shirt
of the blue and defeated twilight:
now I touch life's sunrise
born with the sun of Stalingrad.

I know the old feathered
transitory young man,
like a binded swan,
unbinds its notorious pain,
for my cry of love to Stalingrad.

I put my soul wherever I want.
I don't nourish from tired paper,
seasoned with ink and inkwell.
I was born to sing to Stalingrad.

My voice was with your great dead,
against your own crushed walls,
my voice sounded like a bell and the wind,
looking at you die, Stalingrad.

Now fighting Americans,
white and dark like pomegranates,
kill the snake in the desert.
You are not alone, Stalingrad.

France returns to the old barricades,
flags of fury raised
over the newly dried tears.
You are not alone, Stalingrad.

And the great English lions
flying over the stormy sea,
nail their claws on the brown dirt.
You are not alone, Stalingrad.

Today, under your mountains of punishment,
only your people are not buried:
the dead's flesh is trembling,
those who touched your front, Stalingrad.

Your blue steel, built with pride,
your planet-crowned hair,
your stronghold of shared bread,
your dark border, Stalingrad.

Your fatherland of hammers and laurels,
the blood of your snowy grandeur,
Stalin's look towards the snow,
snow woven with your blood, Stalingrad.

The decorations that your dead
have put on the dirt's
pierced breast, and the thrill
of life and death, Stalingrad

The deep salt that you once again
bring to the heart of the upset man
with the branch of red captains
coming from your blood, Stalingrad.

The hope that breaks in the gardens,
like a long waited-for flower,
the page engraved with rifles,
letters of light, Stalingrad.

The tower that you conceive high,
the bloodstained stone shrines,
the defenders of your mature age,
the sons of your skin, Stalingrad.

The burning eagles of your stones,
the metals breastfed by your soul,
the farewells with huge tears,
and the waves of love, Stalingrad.

The bones of wounded assassins,
the invading eyelids closed,
and the fleeing conquerors
behind your spark, Stalingrad.

Those who mocked the Arc's curve,
and drilled through the Seine's waters
with the consent of the slave,
stopped at Stalingrad.

Those who walked over the wounds
of a crying beautiful Prague,
over it betrayed and muted,
died at Stalingrad.

Those who spit in the greek grotto,
the broken glass stalactite,
and its rare classic blue,
now where are they, Stalingrad?

Those who burned and broke Spain,
leaving the chained heart
of a mother of soldiers and oaks,
are rotting at your feet, Stalingrad.

Those who, in Holland,
splattered tulips and water with bloodstained mud
and spread the whip and the sword,
now are sleeping at Stalingrad.

Those who, in Norway's white night,
with a howl like a released jackal,
burned that frozen spring,
muted at Stalingrad.

Honour to you for what the air is bringing,
for what must be and has been sung,
honour for your mother and your children,
and your grandchildren, Stalingrad.

Honour to the fog fighter,
honour to the Comissar and soldier,
honour to the sky behind the moon,
honour to the sun of Stalingrad.

Save me a fragment of violent foam
save me a rifle, save a plow for me
and let them place it at my grave
with a red ear of grain from your soil,
that it be known, if there be any doubt,
that I died loving you and you loved me,
and if I did not fight in your waist
I leave in your honor this dark grenade,
this song of love for Stalingrad.