“Goodbyes” by Pablo Neruda

I finished Pablo Neruda‘s Fully Empowered, a collection of 36 poems. It’s a lovely little book that includes the following, “Goodbyes.” I’ve lost count how many times I’ve reread it. To those of you on figurative journeys and to my tribe of travel writers who mean a great deal to me, I dedicate this to you. 



by Pablo Neruda


Goodbye, goodbye, to one place or another,

to every mouth, to every sorrow,

to the insolent moon, to weeks

which wound in the days and disappeared,

goodbye to this voice and that one stained

with amaranth, and goodbye

to the usual bed and plate,

to the twilit setting of all goodbyes,

to the chair that is part of the same twilight,

to the way made by my shoes.


I spread myself, no question ;

I turned over whole lives,

changed skin, lamps, and hates,

it was something I had to do,

not by law or whim,

more of a chain reaction ;

each new journey enchained me ;

I took pleasure in place, in all places.


And, newly arrived, I promptly said goodbye

with still newborn tenderness

as if the bread were to open and suddenly

flee from the world of the table.

So I left behind all languages,

repeated goodbyes like an old door,

changed cinemas, reasons, and tombs,

left everywhere for somewhere else ;

I went on being, and being always

half undone with joy,

a bridegroom among sadnesses,

never knowing how or when,

ready to return, never returning.


It’s well known that he who returns never left,

so I traced and retraced my life,

changing clothes and planets,

growing used to the company,

to the great whirl of exile,

to the great solitude of bells tolling.

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