Who really wrote this?

Pablo Neruda or a 16-year-old (female) LA High student from Nicaragua:

Here it goes (regardless of the true author, it drove me crazy. I dug it up going through some old papers a few days ago.)
Dec 14,1995 (to me)
Our Love
If our love were not,
At the same time a secret,
A torment, a doubt, an interrogation;

. . .

If our together lips
Naked like bodies,
Like naked lips
Did not form one body
And one breath,

Ours would not be love, our love would not be!
If she was just plagarizing, I’d have to give her credit for choosing a good writer to steal from.

I’m leaning towards “not Neruda.” It just doesn’t read like him at all.

I believe you because in the past you’ve shown your knowledge (but you haven’t graduatated yet, have you…not that it matters, but I’m just curious…how are the cows?)

Could you be more specifc? It sounds to me just like Neruda, and considering that she was 16, trying to impress (seduce, reallly) someone ten years her elder, and that English translations of Neruda aboud…well, go figure.

But “It just doesn’t read likd him at all” means you have of really good ear for English translations of a very specific Spanish language auther. I’d like to know more about this.

And about the cows, too, if you’ve got a moment.

This line doesn’t make sense to me - her lover is trembling and submissive with everyone but her?

The cows are fine, as far as I know. Apparently there was some sort of prolapsed uterus problem with one of them a couple weeks ago, which my mom filled me in on over the phone. Glad I wasn’t there. It was so cold a few weeks ago that some pipes in the milking barn burst, which I am led to understand left some cows very unhappy, as their feed was a little bit more damp than they prefer it. Primadonnas.

Neruda is one of my favorite poets, and I’ve had the opportunity to read both English translations of his poetry and the original Spanish, and this just feels slightly off to me. Some of the descriptive language is coarse or unrefined compared to what I’d expect from Neruda – hearts beating like “a closed fist on an impassive door,” “lingering saliva,” the tightrope image.

Some other things in it are cliched and I expect more from Neruda, who was absolutely brilliant, and didn’t resort to lines like the last one in this poem. (I’m sorry! I don’t mean to belittle your memories or something special to you.)

I also think this poem was probably within the reach of a bright 16-year-old girl, who was heavily influenced by Neruda (see the “infinite taste” line; “infinite” is definitely a word I associate with Neruda.) When I think of a Neruda poem, I think of lots of beautifully crafted detail, references to nature and wry humor. I’m not really seeing any of that here. There are quite a few instances where I expect the poet to build on the imagery or the emotion and where an experienced poet like Neruda would have. Instead of just talking about how the feeling is painful, in what ways does it pain you? That sort of thing.

I’m perfectly willing to admit that I’m wrong if it turns out that Neruda did write this, though I’d be very surprised. I’m not a Neruda scholar, and I’m not even a student of poetry, but something doesn’t feel right about it.

Neruda is one of very few authors that I have trouble believing are dead, because his poetry is so alive.

Oh, another thing that bugged me was the saliva. One thing about Neruda that I like is that he talks about the body a lot, but he doesn’t use a lot of direct references to bodily fluids. If he’s going to be talking about vaginas, for example, he’ll set it up within a larger metaphor, so on the surface he’s talking about gardening in damp soil, to draw an example out of a poem I don’t remember, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s talking about a different sort of dampness altogether.

Please re-read Rules for Posting on the Straight Dope Message Boards, noting especially Post #3. Also, Forum Rules Post #2.

I understand the difficulty, that on the one hand you want to identify a poem’s source, but nonetheless, you cannot quote an entire poem on these boards. Best is to find it online at what is presumably a legal source and provide a link. Of course, if you could find it online, you’d probably have identified the author, but…

I’ve edited out all the but the first and last stanzas.

Yes, yes, yes I’ve read those rules, and no, no, no I haven’t found this poem in my Neruda Collection. And why, why, why would you ever find it a possible legal problem? What I’m trying to say is that this is NOT anybody’s “entire poem,” just a probable youthful attempt at one. You guys do your jobs well, but sometimes with a little bit too much enthusiam. (Or perhaps you’re a lawyer IRL; that would explain
everything.)

Your “editing” completely makes the post pointless. (You might as well have just cut the whole thread out completely.) The point being: could a sixteen-year-old LA High student from Nicaragua (you know, who lives in that weird of part of LA–the mixture of Koreatown and Hancock Park (where Mayor Brown used to live), and Pico-Union where the now world-imperious 18th Street drug gang began (and where the film Collatoral began), have been writing such a poem?. (If so, then there’s hope for this intriguing city.) The grammatical errors made it clear that it wasn’t a professional translation. But Dexter seemed to think there was a legal liability.

My guess is that **Dexter **is either a lawyer or really, really, really wants to be one.

(Come on Dexter, you do a good job. Don’t OVERdo it.) I would politely ask you to replace the original poem, especially considering that it doesn’t identify me, and and that the author remains nameless, (and that personally I think she’s a damned good writer for a sixteen-year-old who doesn’t speak English as a first language. [What the hell were YOU writing at 16, (in your native language), probably on a public wall with spray-paint].

From what little there is of the poem, it appears this poem is way too unpolished to be a piece by Neruda. I’ve read some of his stuff both in Spanish and English and he’s much more careful about how he chooses his words. Also, phraseology like “together lips” indicates English is not the author’s (or in the very least, the translator’s) first language. It would be much more likely to write, in Spanish, “nuestros labios juntos” (our lips together) than “nuestros juntos labios” (our together lips)… that is just the way the language is constructed. So in my mind I’m seeing a native Spanish speaker wondering if the English rules are different and writing it down in a way that sounds strange to us but for whatever reason makes more sense to her.

There’s also a piece of repetition here:
“Our together lips
Naked like bodies,
like naked lips…”
that would have been edited out by a professional poet, especially Neruda. While the style does mirror his closely, I can’t see him constructing anything like that bit there… it just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

I would like to emphasize I do not think it is a bad poem–merely an unpolished, unedited poem–and if it is edited, polished and published, it wouldn’t be up to Neruda’s standards. For a 16 year old girl who doesn’t speak English as a first language though, I would say it indicates a lot of natural talent and influence by Neruda… but is not, in itself, Neruda.

If it turns out to be a Neruda poem, then the SDMB would be in violation of copyright laws. It’s that simple.

Given that you’re so blase about it why not accept the legal liability, post it on a website of your creation, and link to it?

What is the line “December 14, 1995 (to me)” doing there? Is it the date of the poem? Neruda died in 1973.

That’s a good suggestion, and you’re right; I’m just really lazy. [Now if I could just rememer my flikr password.]

However, the notion of the SDMB being sued for printing a Neruda poem seems pretty funny to me, especially if no one in partricular is taking credit for it. If someone decided to post, oh, lets say “God Bless America,” saying “I wrote this great patriotic song”, and the SDMB got sued for it, then I guess the point would be very well-illustrated indeed. Or the author of “How Much is That Little Doggy in the Window,” (I took a class from the guy who wrote it.) I’m sure his estate would be furious.

After all, how much money is the Chicago Reader making from a person on a website who implies–simply by writing the lyrics–that s/he is the auther of “How Much is that Doggy…etc,” an anomyous person, who might simply remember it from childhood. It might boost SDMB membership a good .02 %, and Donald Trump’s blood pressure would be vicariously rising. Bob’s family would definitely be in a legal rage.

That’s basically how I felt about it when I got it.

That just means the date she “wrote” it and that it was to me.

While I’d since gotten to know her better, I came to wonder: “Is this something completely original, or is it a young person’s (rather admirable) translation?” That’s the gist of my OP. You see, I’m not a real Neruda expert–actually, I’m not an expert at anything. I just have a few of his anthologies, but couldn’t find anything that would be a comparable translation.

Don’t worryl Her poetry, derivitive or not, will withstand even YOUR abrasive attacks :wink:

Miss Pearl, that was a very eloquent post indeed. I especially agree with you about the pain thing (it did turn out to be painful, in a way. :frowning: ) It’s either an original Neruda (translated by a recently immigrated Spanish speaker who was still trying to get her English verbs right). or someone who had (and surely stilll has) a gift with language, influenced by Neruda (come on, how many of you out there can say you were influenced by Neruda at age 16? And that you could pass a plausible translation of him into English?==My problem was Thomas Mann, but that’s another story.)

Anyway, I just would disagree on on thing: the saliva. I think that Neruda could take saliva (of course, as part of a kiss). and make it work as poetry

Don’t worry! Her poetry–derivitive or not–or rather, my sappy infatuation with it will withstand even YOUR abrasive attacks :wink:

Miss Pearl, that was a very eloquent post indeed. I especially agree with you about the pain thing (it did turn out to be painful, in a way. :frowning: ) It’s either an original Neruda (translated by a recently immigrated Spanish speaker who was still trying to get her English verbs right). or someone who had (and surely stilll has) a gift with language, influenced by Neruda (come on, how many of you out there can say you were influenced by Neruda at age 16? And that you could pass a plausible translation of him into English?==My problem was Thomas Mann, but that’s another story.)

Anyway, I just would disagree on one thing: the saliva. I think that Neruda could take saliva (of course, as part of a kiss). and make it work as poetry.

And Dexter, sorry if I seemed snarky. That wasn’t my intent at all. It’s just that when it comes to liturature, quoting is as common as LEET in a chat room. I don’t think real lawyers give it a look one way or another, unless huge amounts of money are involved. Could that ever be the case with the SDMB?

Sorry. Somehow double posted. More coffee. Now. Stat!