Take away my bread, if you will,
take away the air, but
do not take away your laugh.

Do not take away the rose,
the spear which you unsheathe,
the water that all at once
bursts up in your joy,
the sudden wave of plants 
that springs up at your feet.

My struggle is hard and sometimes 
I come home tired-eyed
from having gazed all day 
at the unchanging earth,
but as soon as I come in, your laugh
rises to heaven, seeking me out, 
and opens up for me
all the doors of life.

My love, even in the hour 
of deepest darkness unsheathe
your laugh, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones in the street, 
then laugh, because your laugh 
will be for my hands 
like a fresh gleaming sword.

By the sea in autumn
your laugh should spout up
its shower of foam,
and in spring, my love,
I need your laugh
like the long-awaited flower, 
the blue flower, the rose 
of my melodious homeland.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the crookedness
of streets on our island,
at this awkward
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my footsteps pace on,
and when my footsteps return,
deny me bread, and air,
deny me light, and spring,
but never your laugh,
for I should surely die.

Pablo Neruda
Translator: Brian Cole

Los versos del capitán (1952) El Amor  

Original version