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Not for the desert lands alone where the rock-salt
is like a rare rose, the flower interred by the sea,
my journey, but also for banks of rivers carving through snow.
The bitter heights of the Cordilleras knew my footsteps.

Sibilant, tangled, regions of my wild country,
creepers whose mortal kiss chains itself to the forest,
moist lament of the bird that surges up, shedding cool quavers:
oh, country of lost sorrows and pitiless tears!

Not only the poisonous skin of copper,
or the nitrate spread like a frieze, a snowy deposit,
but the vine, the cherry prized by the spring

are mine, and I belong like a dark atom
to the arid lands and the autumn light of the grape,
to this country of metal lifted in towers of snow.


Pablo Neruda, 1959
Translation by A. S. Kline

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