Valentines for the romantically challenged

Hola Hart Beat. Today I thought I’d share with you a great new podcast that my roommate recently introduced to me. I listen to podcasts all the time (Radiolab is my all time favorite. Ahem, hey Robert Krulwich, why are you such a negative Nancy?) and on and off I’ve been into This American Life.

The podcast that Sam shared with me is called The Poetry Magazine Podcast and is produced by The National Poetry Foundation. The premise behind the show is that editors “go inside the pages of Poetry, talking to poets and critics, debating the issues, and sharing their poem selections with listeners.” It comes out weekly so there’s always something new to hear and after reading a few poems the people on the show discuss what they think the poems mean. The episode that I want to share with you, Hart Beat, is this years Valentine’s Day podcast called “Valentines for the Romantically Challenged.

In this episode there are two love poems under discussion. The first, “Variation on the Word Sleep” by Margaret Atwood, might be one of the most romantic poems I’ve read in a while. And the second, ” ” by Pablo Neruda, is obviously one of my favorites. I especially love the discussion that they have about the different translations of the poem that they come across. Poetry, Spanish translation, and romance all in one podcast?? I think all my dreams have come true.

You can listen to the poems and the podcast by clicking here.

Variation on the Word Sleep
by Margaret Atwood

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver 
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easy as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII
by Pablo Neruda (translated by Mark Eisner)

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

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