Could someone tell me the author of the poem which starts:-
So how long does a man live, finally?
A man lives so many different lengths of time.
If the poem is not called "How long does a man live" could I have the correct name of the poem.Thanks.
it is a poem by Pablo Neruda
AND HOW LONG?
trans. Alastair Reid
How long does a man live, after all?
Does he live a thousand days, or one only?
A week, or several centuries?
How long does a man spend dying?
What does it mean to say 'for ever'?
Lost in these preoccupation
I set myself to clear things up.
I sought out knowledgeable priests.
I waited for them after their rituals,
I watched them when they went their ways
to visit God and the Devil.
They wearied of my questions.
They on their part knew very little;
they were no more than administrators.
Medical men received me
in between consultations,
a scalpel in each hand,
saturated in aureomycin,
busier each day.
As far as I could tell from their talk,
the problem was as follows:
it was not so much the death of a microbe -
they went down by the ton -
-but the few which survived
showeds signs of perversity.
They left me so startled
that I sought out the gravediggers.
I went to the rivers where they burn
enormous painted corpses,
tiny bony bodies,
emperors with an aura
of terrible curses,
women snuffed out at a stroke
by a wave of cholera.
There were whole beaches of dead
and ashy specialists.
When I got the chance
I asked them a slew of questions.
They offered to burn me;
it was the only thing they knew.
In my own country the undertakers
answered me, between drinks:
'Get yourself a good woman
and give up this nonsense.'
I never saw people so happy.
Raising their glasses they sang,
toasting health and death.
They were huge fornicators.
I returned home, much older
after crossing the world.
Now I question nobody.
But I know less every day.
Cuánto vive el hombre, por fin?
Vive mil días o uno solo?
Una semana o varios siglos?
Por cuánto tiempo muere el hombre?
Qué quiere decir 'Para Siempre'?
Preocupado por este asunto
me dediqué a aclarar las cosas.
Busqué a los sabios sacerdotes,
los esperé después del rito,
los aceché cuando salían
a visitar a Dios y al Diablo.
Se aburrieron con mis preguntas.
Ellos tampoco sabían mucho,
eran sólo administradores.
Los médicos me recibieron,
entre una consulta y otra,
con un bisturí en cada mano,
saturados de aureomicina,
más ocupados cada dia.
Según supe por lo que hablaban
el problema era como suige:
nunca murió tanto microbio,
toneladas de ellos caían,
pero los pocos que quedaron
se manifestaban perversos.
Me dejaron tan asustado
que busqé a los enterradores.
Me fuí a los ríos donde queman
grandes cadáveres pintados,
pequeños muertos huesudos.
por escamas atterradoras,
mujeres aplastadas de pronto
por una ráfaga de cólera.
Eran riberas de difuntos
y especialistas cenicientos.
Cuando llegé mi oportunidad
les largué unas cuantas preguntas,
ellos me ofrecieren quemarme:
era todo lo que sabían.
En mi país los enterradores
me contestaron, entre copas:
- 'Búscate una moza robusta
y déjate de tonterías.'
Nunca vi gentes tan alegres.
Cantaban levantando el vino
por la salud y por la muerte.
Eran grandes fornicadores.
Regresé a mi casa más viejo
después de recorrer el mundo.
No le pregunto a nadie nada.
Pero sé cada día menos.
Thanks Ilza however unless something has been lost in translation it does not appear to be the same poem. Here is the version which was the last part of an eulegy.
So how long does a man live,finally?
and how much does he live while he lives?
We fret, and ask so many questions-
Then it comes to us
The answer is so simple.
A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us,
For as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams,
For as long as we ourselves live,
Holding memories in common,a man lives.
His wife will carry his man's scent, his touch,
His children will carry the weight of his love,
One friend will carry his arguments,
Another will hum his favourite tunes,
Another will share his terrors.
And the days will pass with baffled faces,
Then the weeks, then the months,
Then there will be a day when no question is asked
and the knots of grief will loosen in the stomach
And the puffed faces will calm.
And on that day he will not have ceased,
But will have ceased to be separated by death.
How long does a man live, finally?
A man lives so many different lengths of time.
Author anyone please.
the poem you mentioned is by Brian Patten,
from his "Armada"
here is also a link to his bio/photo ...
And here is the title poem from the collection. It's beautiful.
T h e A r m a d a
Long, long ago
when everything I was told was believable
and the little I knew was less limited than now,
I stretched belly down on the grass beside a pond
and to the far bank launched a child's armada.
A broken fortress of twigs,
the paper-tissue sails of galleons,
the waterlogged branches of submarines -
all came to ruin and were on flame
in that dusk-red pond.
And you, mother, stood behind me,
impatient to be going,
old at twenty-three, alone,
thin overcoat flapping.
How closely the past shadows us.
In a hospital a mile or so from that pond
I kneel beside your bed and, closing my eyes,
reach out across forty years to touch once more
that pond's cool surface,
and it is your cool skin I'm touching;
for as on a pond a child's paper boat
was blown out of reach
by the smallest gust of wind,
so too have you been blown out of reach
by the smallest whisper of death,
and a childhood memory is sharpened,
and the heart burns as that armada burnt,
long, long ago.
Thanks Iliza and Stephen Fryer you came up trumps.I have not read any of Brian Patten's work before and this was my first visit to this site, but I will be back again and again!!!!Thanks again.
thanks iliza you have made my day.
Thanks Stephen you have made my day!
you're most welcome
do come back !
'So Many Different Lengths of Time' is by Brian Patten
The name of the poem you are looking for is 'So Many Different Lengths of Time' and it was written by a man named Patten
Gail and Tintin: click on Flat View, and you will see how this thread has already been resolved.
It is pablo neruda's And How Long? Thats what you are looking for