jump to navigation

Ode to Wine October 18, 2013

Posted by Alex Sawit in About Wine, Stuff in General.

By Alex Sawit

October 19, 2013




In for a penny, in for a pound.

After completing my translation of Neruda’s Sonnet No. 12, I then decided to also translate his poem, Ode to Wine. This is another Neruda poem that I felt I could render into English better, especially given my insights in the wine business. In other translations, crucial details of the wine story get lost due to the translators’ lack of familiarity with winemaking traditions, which is a pity because the poem is an honest window into Neruda’s rich vineyard experiences (for instance, the poem actually describes the vineyard sights he encountered on the stunning Mediterranean isle of Capri).

I used the same translation software for Ode to Wine that I used for the sonnet to generate lines of raw English text from the original Spanish. But unlike my previous effort where I first examined other English versions before proceeding, this time I took the lines of raw text and then crafted them into the most meaningful interpretations, only after which did I check the versions of other translators to see if they compared favorably.

All this has given me a more profound opinion of Neruda as a fellow wine drinker. So just like before, I invite Neruda fans who may disagree with my translation to come to the shop for a friendly debate over a bottle of something nice. Because for me, his poem is the most magnificent tribute to the love of wine that has ever been written. I’m glad I got it right. Cheers!



Ode to Wine

by Pablo Neruda


Wine the color of day,
wine the color of night,
wine with purple feet
or topaz blood,
starry son
of the earth,
wine, smooth
like a saber of gold,
like a decadent velvet feel,
wine decanted in a spiral seashell
and suspended,
you’ve never belonged in one cup,
in one song, in one man,
chorus-like, gregarious are you,
and at least, feeling’s mutual.
you feed on our memories
of fatalistic melancholy,
sloshed in your wave
tumbling in tomb dead drunk we go,
you mason of this stone-cold sepulcher,
and we cry
passing tears,
to be in your handsome
picnic suit
is a different scene,
the heart rises to the treetops,
the rustling breeze keeps the day going,
nothing is left unmoved
within your immovable soul.
The vintage
puts in motion the springtime bustle,
the joy of winemaking grows like a plant,
derelict walls are felled,
vineyard-laden cliffs are beheld,
the steep drops are closed,
the song is born.
Oh thou, jug of wine, in the desert
with the tasty woman whom I adore,
songfully recited the old bard.
Now that be the pitcher of wine
whose kiss complements the kiss of love.

My love, instantly
your hip
is the full curve
of the wine cup,
your bosom is the bunched fruit of the vine,
the bright teardrop lines of the alcohol your hair,
the grapes your nipples,
your navel the vintner’s genuine seal
stamped on your wine vessel womb,
and your love the cascade
of wine inextinguishable,
the clarity that illuminates my senses,
the earthly splendor of life.

Yet no true love,
burning kiss
or heart consumed with fire
are you, wine of life,
but for
the friendship of others, in the open,
in the conducted chorus of song,
in the abundant flowering of conviviality.
I love having on a table,
when engaged in conversation,
the light of a bottle
of intelligent wine.
That in drinking it,
I remember in every
drop of gold
or cup of topaz
or spoon of purple
that job that is the autumn harvest
all the way to the filling of wine in the vessels
and the man who seeks illumination learns,
in the ritual celebration of his business,
to remember the land and his duties,
to propagate the sacred song of the fruit.



Translated by Alex Sawit
October 19, 2013








1. Paulina Lopez - April 6, 2014

Compelled to stop and say BRAVO!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: