So Many Different Lengths of Time

So Many Different Lengths of Time

How long is a man’s life finally? Is it a thousand days, or only one?

One week or a few centuries? And how much does he live while he lives?

How long does a man’s death last?

And what do we mean when we say, ‘gone forever’?

We fret and ask so many questions – then when it comes to us

The answer is simple.

A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us,

For as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams,

And his work moves the lives of others, for as long as we ourselves live,

Holding memories in common, a man lives.

His lover will carry her 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 dance for him,

Another will broadcast the seed of his laughter,

And some will still 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 length of time.

(Posible Pablo Neruda translated by Brian Patten (Arauda 1996), but not sure).