What Spring Does with the Cherry Trees

After seeing yesterday’s posting of the Eastern Redbud in full rapture, my friend Sally Reed reminded me of this exquisite and sensual poem by Neruda:

Every Day You Play

Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more than this white head that I hold tightly
as a cluster of fruit, every day, between my hands.

You are like nobody since I love you.
Let me spread you out among yellow garlands.
Who writes your name in letters of smoke among the stars of the south?
Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.

Suddenly the wind howls and bangs at my shut window.
The sky is a net crammed with shadowy fish.
Here all the winds let go sooner or later, all of them.
The rain takes off her clothes.

The birds go by, fleeing.
The wind. The wind.
I can contend only against the power of men.
The storm whirls dark leaves
and turns loose all the boats that were moored last night to the sky.

You are here. Oh, you do not run away.
You will answer me to the last cry.
Cling to me as though you were frightened.
Even so, at one time a strange shadow ran through your eyes.

Now, now too, little one, you bring me honeysuckle,
and even your breasts smell of it.
While the sad wind goes slaughtering butterflies
I love you, and my happiness bites the plum of your mouth.

How you must have suffered getting accustomed to me,
my savage, solitary soul, my name that sends them all running.
So many times we have seen the morning star burn, kissing our eyes,
and over our heads the gray light unwind in turning fans.

My words rained over you, stroking you.
A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body.
I go so far as to think that you own the universe.
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells,
dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.
I want
to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.

Pablo Neruda

34 comments

  1. suburbanlife’s avatar

    Thank you for taking the time to share this Pablo Neruda gift with us, he is unfailing gorgeousness! G

  2. Deborah Barlow’s avatar

    It is a breathtaking poem. I’m so glad you like it too. But then again, we usually agree on these things…

  3. Tony’s avatar

    Never had read this poem before today when I received a note in the mail from a woman I took the airport yesterday and am joining in San Francisco on Sunday.

    The note reads, “quiero hacer contigo lo que la primavera hace con los cerezos.”

    What spring does with the cherry trees…

  4. Mark Eisner’s avatar

    Such a great poem. Please check out our Nerudian garden at http://www.redpoppy.net/pablo_neruda.php, I think you’ll dig it!

    Paz, pan, flores y amor,
    Mark

    1. polilla’s avatar

      Hola Mark! No es curioso encontrarte aqui,
      Besos, polilla

      1. eizmarcos’s avatar

        Si po poLILLA! escribame! besos

  5. india’s avatar

    If anyone has pondered on the lines,
    “I want
    to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”

    what’s your understanding of it?

    1. Kristen’s avatar

      To make her blush!

  6. Deborah Barlow’s avatar

    India, I have always read that line as the most extraordinary metaphor for sensuality, awakening, sexuality, the magic of transformation.

  7. indiangirl’s avatar

    Thank you Deborah : For me it’s Acceptance, Ripening, Sexuality, Eternal Love

  8. raiden’s avatar

    Deborah and indiangirl, that’s a pretty deep insight to the phrase.. I like both the thoughts. BUT, what does it literally mean.. What exactly does the Spring do to the Cherry Trees?

  9. indiangirl’s avatar

    spring ripens the cherry spring blossoms the cherry and therefore neruda’s love will open up this untouched virgin unknown space inside his lover

  10. Sarah’s avatar

    This is a beautiful poem. I stumbled here in a quest to find a quote from the Sufi mystic known as ‘Rumi’. He’s talking about how God feels about human beings and it goes something like “I want to be for you what spring is for the cherry tree” but I can’t find it anywhere!
    If you happen to know it I’d be so grateful if you could post a reply. Thanks very much! Sarah

  11. indiangirl’s avatar

    Hi Sarah , Rumi is really amazing , I have read his work , but haven’t come across anything on spring

  12. angelo’s avatar

    Cherry trees’ flowers blossom on spring. The flower opens for the first time and the pollen inside falls to the bottom of the tree creating an effect such that it seems as it snowed. It doesn’t necessarily mean there is one first time. The true lover can and will make each time as if it were the first. The beauty of poetry lies in the subjectivity created from each idividual’s experiences. I could go on describing more, but objectivity is usually boring. I hope this helps.

  13. amo617’s avatar

    i read it as though he wants to bring life to his lover. it seems she has passed on.

  14. indi’s avatar

    Hi amo617 i like ur interpretation too

  15. xxoosuzi’s avatar

    where i live, in portland, oregon, it is always very dark and gray outside in the months preceding the cherry blossoms…

    when they finally arrive — as they do, unfailingly each year — i feel reborn…fresh…alive. the world is full of hope and magic and promise again after a long, cold, damp, dark season.

    i love these trees…i am so excited to see them each year…they are very healing to my soul. they help me to open up my heart and let go of any heaviness there…they inspire me to look at everything with new eyes…they remind me to connect with the potency of simply breathing and being alive.

    a friend of mine who noticed this yearly delight, told me about this poem many years ago…the cherry blossom line is, for me, the ultimate promise of true, pure love.

  16. Ravi’s avatar

    Its amazing how the same lines could have different meaning for different people. When I read the lines ‘I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees’ for the first time (and I just read this line, not the complete poem), I interpreted it as that the poet wants to make his lover the happiest person in the universe. That he wants to take away all the sorrow from her and gift her a new wonderful life.

  17. Indian Girl’s avatar

    Hi ravi, i like ur interpration too, gifting a new life and spring can be equated

    1. Dis’s avatar

      Thanks for posting this beautiful poem. It was lovely to read and I got inspired to get the book “20 love poems and a song of despair” by Neruda and even posted this poem in my blog.

      I liked the whole poem but mostly the lines…
      “my happiness bites the plum of your mouth.”
      “How you must have suffered getting accustomed to me,
      my savage, solitary soul, my name that sends them all running.”

      Last 2 lines are one of the finest I have ever read.

      1. indian girl’s avatar

        agree @ my happiness bites the plum of your mouth

  18. Devadas’s avatar

    Here is the
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGwgRJNm4gQ&feature=player_embedded#!

    Translation of this poem in Malayalam (India Language).
    Sang by actor Suresh Gopi.
    I like both versions very much……..

    1. indian girl’s avatar

      i liked the tune, of course didn’t understand the words.

  19. Veronica’s avatar

    For more great Pablo, check out the bestselling edition bilingual edition of his translations, The Essential Neruda:

    http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Neruda-Selected-Bilingual-Spanish/dp/0872864286/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239566952&sr=8-1

    Paz,
    Veronica

  20. Upal Deb’s avatar

    “I want
    to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees”

    Remarkable Neruda might be right in his idea…the translator left it prosaically boring…could well be…

    “Like spring breathes free on cherry trees
    I long to breathe on you,on you alone”

    1. me’s avatar

      The translator left it exactly as Neruda wrote it: quiero hacer contigo lo que la primavera hace con los cerezos translates to I want to do with you that which the springs dows with the cherry trees.

      Seeing as Neruda achieved an absolute simplicity (while expressing a tenderness and sensuality that is nevertheless breath-taking) – or, as you say, was prosaically boring – why should the translator have added what wasn’t there and what wasn’t intended by the poet?

  21. Lucia’s avatar

    What lovely discussion….
    Neruda always touches me deeply with his words, and it is so good to see that it does the same for all of you. Thank you for sharing his poem here.

  22. rashani réa’s avatar

    so so exquisite. thank you~

  23. style tutorials’s avatar

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  24. glitteringsootonhereyelashes’s avatar

    what a beautiful poem this really is! xx

  25. Indraneel Bhattacharya’s avatar

    so simple…so true.

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