“Life is only a borrowing of bones.”

“October Fullness,” by Pablo Neruda

(translated from the original Spanish)


Little by little, and also by great leaps

life happened to me, and how insignificant this business is.

These veins carried my blood, which I scarcely ever saw,

I breathed the air of so many places without keeping a sample of any.

In the end, everyone is aware of this:

nobody keeps any of what he has, and life is only a borrowing of bones.

The best thing was learning not to have too much either of sorrow or of joy,

to hope for the chance of a last drop,

to ask more from honey and twilight.


Perhaps it was my punishment, perhaps I was condemned to be happy.

Let it be known that nobody crossed my path without sharing my being.

I plunged up to the neck in adversities that were not mine, into all the sufferings of others.

It wasn’t a question of applause or profit.

Much less. It was not being able to live or breathe in this shadow, the shadow

of others like towers, like bitter trees that bury you, like cobblestones on the knees.


Our own wounds heal with weeping, our own wounds heal with singing.

But in our doorways lie bleeding widows, Indians, poor men, fishermen.

The miner’s child doesn’t know his father amidst all that suffering.


So be it, but my business was the fullness of spirit: a cry of pleasure choking you, a sigh

from an uprooted plant, the sum of all action.

It pleased me to grow with the morning, to bathe in the sun, in the great joy of sun, salt,

sea-light and waves, and in that unwinding of the foam, my heart began to move,

growing in that essential spasm, and dying away as it seeped into the sand.




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