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


 
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