POETIC BLOOMINGS READING ROOM #65 – “WHEN I DIE I WANT YOUR HANDS ON MY EYES”

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

Pablo Neruda was the pen name (and eventually the legal name) of Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto. He was of Chilean birth and had been a poet, diplomat and politician. Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He wrote in a variety of genres, including surreal, historic, political diatribes, and his works included a prose autobiography, and passionate love poems. His collection, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924) contains some of his best loved love poems. This sonnet featured below, WHEN I DIE I WANT YOUR HANDS ON MY EYES, wishes his love to live on well after his death.


WHEN I DIE I WANT YOUR HANDS ON MY EYES
By Pablo Neruda 	

When I die I want your hands on my eyes:
I want the light and the wheat of your beloved hands
to pass their freshness over me one more time
to feel the smoothness that changed my destiny.

I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep,
I want for your ears to go on hearing the wind,
for you to smell the sea that we loved together
and for you to go on walking the sand where we walked.

I want for what I love to go on living
and as for you I loved you and sang you above everything,
for that, go on flowering, flowery one,

so that you reach all that my love orders for you,
so that my shadow passes through your hair,
so that they know by this the reason for my song.


14 thoughts on “POETIC BLOOMINGS READING ROOM #65 – “WHEN I DIE I WANT YOUR HANDS ON MY EYES”

  1. I don;t know Naruda’s work, so thank you for the introduction. I am enchanted by this piece, especially “… go on flowering, flowery one … “

  2. Oh, how I love this poem. Never read it before so thanks for posting it. Sal “introduced” me to Neruda so I did know some of his poetry. He had some beautiful turns of phrasing and powerful poetry.

  3. Being a lover of those who love love, how could I not be a fan. Two of my favourites of his are his desire “to do to you what spring does to cherry trees” and his eulogy for the dog he buried in his garden, knowing he himself would get the same treatment one day

  4. First introduced to Neruda by a Latin Lover, whose dog-eaged collected copy in Spanish posed multiple challenges…although it never occurred to me how many other fair lady’s might have had the loan of the volume (so much lost in translation??!!) but I loved his phrasing and depth, his passion for language and still do…

  5. Neruda writes with such skill and passion, you can’t walk away untouched. This poem is no exception, and it divulges a beautiful and unselfish love.

    But, I have a sincere question: Does anyone else find the title off putting?

  6. Well, I can offer my opinion– I agree with William that’s it’s a final kindness to close the eyes of the deceased, and in Spanish //manos (hands)// rhymes with //Ojos//–eyes… so there may be a bit more musicality, but I think it’s perhaps that “off-putting” jerk of death itself….the Oh, but… reaction of Do we have to go there? But read en toto, I was ok with it, like “be the last one to touch me”

  7. You are all so lovely. Thank you for the replies to my un-insightful question. Because the poem is the epitome of love of one for another, I figured I must be missing something. Obviously, I was. ❤

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