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from the October 2013 issue

Ode to the Andean Cordillera

Once again, from up high,
flying over 
the sky,
you appeared, white and obscure 
cordillera of my homeland.
Before then, the great airplane 
crossed great seas,
jungles, deserts.
Everything was symmetry,
everything was ready
on the earth’s surface,
everything from above
was path,
until, in the middle 
of heaven and earth,
your planetary snow
lodged itself,
freezing the towers of earth.
Volcanoes, scars,
ferruginous snows,
titanic heights,
heads of mountains,
feet of sky,
abyss of the abyss,
the terrestrial shell,
and the sun,
at seven thousand 
meters above land,
hard like a diamond
the veins, the branches
of shadow and the snow
on the enraged
storm of the worlds,
stopping while boiling,
and the colossal
its granite seas.

Homeland, the earth placed
on your slim hands
its toughest banner,
the Andean cordillera,
snowed blade, pristine solitudes,
stone and shiver,
and on your side
like an infinite flower the sea offers you
its spilt foam.
Oh sea, oh snow,
oh sky
of my small country,   
to man, to the compatriot,
to the comrade
you shall give,
you shall give one day
the bread of your grandeur,
you shall unite it to the fate
of snow,
to the sacred splendor
of the sea and its energy.
Tough dwelling,
one day
you shall open up
the secret
the ray of your qualities,
and then
my small
injured severely in your kingdom,
in its own fortitude,
ragged in its confines of gold,
it shall receive
the treasure
while conquering it,
defending the snow of its star,
multiplying the sea and its bunches,
extending the silence of fruit.
Cordillera, school
of stone,
I celebrate
your magnitude
in this hour,
your toughness,
the cold candelabra
of your elevated
solitudes of snow,
the night,
motionless estuary,
the stones of your sleep,
the translucent  
on your head
and on it, on the snowed
of the world,
the condor
his powerful
his dignified
over vigorous heights.

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.   

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