Pablo Neruda

A Dog Has Died
                                     (translated by William O’Daly)

My dog has died.

I buried him in the garden
beside a rusty old engine.

There, not too deep,
not too shallow,
he will greet me sometime.

He already left with his coat,
his bad manners, his cold nose.
And I, a materialist who does not believe
in the starry heaven promised
to a human being,
for this dog and for every dog
I believe in heaven, yes, I believe in a heaven
that I will never enter, but he waits for me
wagging his big fan of a tail
so I, soon to arrive, will feel welcomed.

No, I will not speak about my sadness on earth
at not having him as a companion anymore,
he never stooped to becoming my servant.
He offered me the friendship of a sea urchin
who always kept his sovereignty,
the friendship of an independent star
with no more intimacy than necessary,
with no exaggerations:
he never used to climb over my clothes
covering me with hair or the mange,
he never used to rub against my knee
like other dogs, obsessed with sex.
No, my dog used to watch me
giving me the attention I need,
yet only the attention necessary
to let a vain person know
that he being a dog,
with those eyes, more pure than mine,
was wasting time, but he watched
with a look that reserved for me
every bit of sweetness, his shaggy life,
his silent life,
sitting nearby, never bothering me,
never asking anything of me.

O, how many times I wanted to have a tail
walking next to him on the seashore,
in the Isla Negra winter,
in the vast solitude: above us
glacial birds pierced the air
and my dog frolicking, bristly hair, full
of the sea’s voltage in motion:
my dog wandering and sniffing around,
brandishing his golden tail
in the face of the ocean and its spume.

O merry, merry, merry,
like only dogs know how to be happy
and nothing more, with an absolute
shameless nature.
There are no goodbyes for my dog who has died.
And there never were and are no lies between us.

He has gone and I buried him, and that was all.