by Pablo Neruda
The poor live on low ground waiting for the river
to rise one night and sweep them out to sea.
I’ve seen small cradles floating by, the wrecks
of house, chairs, and a great rage of ash—
pale water draining terror from the sky:
this is all yours, poor man, for your wife and crop,
dog and tools, for you to learn to beg.
No water climbs to the homes of gentlemen
whose snowy collars flutter on the line.
It feeds on this rolling mire, these ruins winding
their idle course to the sea with your dead,
among roughcut tables and the luckless trees
that bob and tumble turning up bare root.
Translated from the Spanish by John Felstiner