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Opium In The East (excerpt) | Poem by Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda
translated by Jodey Bateman


(written about his travels in the thirties)

Starting at Singapore it smelled of opium 
The good Englishman knew what he was doing 
At world conferences he thundered 
Against the secret drug-lords 
And in his colonies every port 
sent up a cloud of authorized smoke 
with an official number and a juicy franchise. 
The official gentleman in London 
dressed like a spotless nightingale 
(with striped pants and a shirt starched into armor) 
A nightingale trilling against the pusher 
in the shadows. 
But here in the Orient 
the gentleman unmasked himself 
and sold lethargy on every corner.

translator's note:  any resemblance to any present situation is purely intentional

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Other Jodey Bateman translations of Pablo Neruda:
I'll Explain Some Things
What Spain Was Like
An Ode For Ironing
Ode to a Woman Gardening
Ode To Bird Watching
Ode to Broken Things
Ode to Clothing / Oda al Traje
Ode to Olive Oil / Oda al Aceite
Ode to Some Yellow Flowers
Ode to the Artichoke
Ode to the Dictionary
Ode to the Lemon
Ode to the Piano
Ode to the Smell of Wood
Opium In The East (excerpt)
Poem Twenty
For Everybody
From the Heights of Maccho Picchu
Poems by Pablo Neruda, Pulitizer Prize winner
Status Report
The Arrival in Madrid
The Heavenly Poets
The Old Women of the Ocean
The Turtle
To Sit Down
To the Foot From Its Child