Opium In The East (excerpt) | Poem by Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda translated by Jodey Bateman
OPIUM IN THE EAST (excerpt)
(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