Ode to Juan Tarrea

Yes, you know America,
Tarrea.
You know it.
In the helpless
Peru, you looted the tombs.
To the small villager,
to the Andean Indian,
Tarrea, protector, 
gave his hand,
but retreated it with its rings.
He destroyed wealth.
He left for Bilbao with the vessels.
Later
he hung from Vallejo,
he was lucky to die
and then he opened
a small store
of prologues and epilogues.

Now
he has spoken with Pineda.
He is important.
He might be selling something.
He has “discovered”
the New World.
Let us discover
those discoverers!
Of Pineda, a young man
about whom I read
in his book
truths 
and wakes,
ferruginous rivers,
clear people,
breads and bakers,
roads on horse ride,
to our American
Pineda,
and to another
from Spain with a priestly
beret and moneylender’s
nails,
Tarrea
arrives
to teach
what he is, what I am
and what we are.

He knows nothing
but
he teaches us.
“America is thus.
This is Rubén Darío,”
he says
placing on the map
the long nail of Euzkadi.
And the poor little one writes
endlessly. 
He can’t read
what he repeats,
but unwearied
he climbs
toward the magazines,
he unhooks himself
toward the capitols,
he slides down
from the academies,
everywhere
he emerges with a speech,
with a mess
of vagueness,
with his oscillating
cloud
of foolish theories,
his old junkyard
of metaphysical balances,
of black
pseudo-magic
and messianic
trinkets.

This is what they carry around
our innocent
populations,
supplements,
magazines, 
the last
and one-before-last
pirates,
and the poor American
is shown
a useless and stubborn
knick-knack
of worm
dreams
and lies
of the false Apocalypse,
and they take
Pineda’s
gold,
the green
vapor
of our rivers,
the harsh
skin,
the salt
of our spacious solitudes.
Tarrea,
go away soon.
Don’t touch me. Don’t touch 
Darío, don’t sell
Vallejo, don’t itch
Neruda’s 
knee.
We love Spanish, Spanishness,
the simple people
who work and wander,
the luminous child
of the terrible
war,
we desire
the brave captain
and the sincere 
farmer. If they want 
to plow the land and preside over the rivers,
come,
yes, they should come,
but
you,
Tarrea, go back
to your barter
in Bilbao,
to the grave
of the putrid monastery,
knock 
at the Caudillo’s door,
you are his emanation,
his black nimbus,
his vacuous widowhood.
Go back
to your buried, to the ossuary
of idle alligators,
we,
simple
stone-cutters, poor
apple eaters,
builders
of a simple house,
don’t want
to be discovered,
no,
we don’t want
the lost chatter
of the dumb from overseas.
Go back now
to your Atlantic
epitaph, to the merchant’s
inlet, the sailor’s
perform there with your basket
of monologues
and scream on the streets
to see if someone has mercy
and consumes
your melancholy goods.
I cannot.

I don’t accept trifles.
I cannot
worry about you, poor Tarrea.

I have song
for such long time
I advise you
to save
nail and tongue.

My mother
was tough,
the Andean cordillera,
the ocean’s thunder
flew 
over my birth,
I live in my domain,
I bleed
in the light of battle,
I shape the walls
of my own home,
I build the stone with my song,
and I don’t need you,
seller
of the dead, chaplain
of ghosts,
pale, spiritualist 
sexton,
horse-dealer of dead mules,
I won’t give you
a vessel
for your rubbish:
I, unfortunately for you,
have wandered, have seen,
sing.

Excerpted from All the Odes: A Bilingual Edition by Pablo Neruda, edited by Ilan Stavans, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. © 2013 by Pablo Neruda and Fundación Pablo Neruda. Introduction © 2013 by Ilan Stavans. All rights reserved.