News from Chile, with greetings from Neruda

2014-10-10 20.15.25-1 As you may guess, no MBO today. I’ve been attending the conference of the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists in Santiago de Chile. I will fly back home today.

I leave you in the company of Neruda, in what, I think, would be his opinion about computational chemistry. Maybe he even told that to Gerhard Herzberg when they met during the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm in 1971.

Tuvimos, hombre,
para que nuestra sed
fuera saciándose,
el ancestral deseo
de enumerar las cosas
y sumarlas,
de reducirlas hasta
hacerlas polvo,
arenales de números.
el mundo
con números y nombres,
las cosas existían,
se fugaban
del número,
enloquecían en sus
se evaporaban
su olor o su recuerdo
y quedaban los números vacíos.

We had, man,
so our thirst
was being satisfied,
the ancestral desire
of enumerating things
and summing them,
of reducing them until
rendering them dust,
dunes of numbers.
We have been
the world
with numbers and names,
the things existed,
fled from the number,
went crazy in their
their fragrance or their memory,
and remained the empty numbers.

This poem is part of Neruda’s “Oda a los números”.

I hope my translation makes justice to the original. You can also check an alternative translation by W. Pitt Root.


Categories: Culture, General

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