“I Like It When You’re Quiet”
‘I like it when you’re quiet. It’s as if you weren’t here now,
and you heard me from a distance, and my voice couldn’t reach you.
It’s as if your eyes had flown away from you, and as if
your mouth were closed because I learned to kiss you.
Just as all living things are filled with my soul,
you emerge from all living things filled with my soul,
It’s as if, a butterfly in dreams, you were my soul,
and as if you were the soul’s word, melancholy.
I like it when you’re quiet. It’s as if you’d gone away now.
And you’d become the keening, the butterfly’s insistence.
And you heard me from a distance and my voice didn’t reach you:
it’s then that what I want is to be quiet with your silence.
It’s then that I what I want is to speak to your silence
in a speech as clear as lamplight, as plain as a gold ring.
You are quiet like the night, and like the night you’re star-lit.
Your silences are star-like, they’re a distant and a simple thing.
I like it when you’re quiet. It’s as if you weren’t here now.
As if you were dead now, and sorrowful, and distant.
A word then is sufficient, or a smile, to make me happy,
Happy that it seems so certain that you’re present.” -Neruda
From “The Essential Neruda” p.7 ‘Twenty Love Poems:15’