Werner Ulrich's Home Page:  Picture of the Month

 Now "Ulrich's Bimonthly"












October 2004

   Picture of the month











Emotional Bridges (2)  Last month, we consulted a contemporary French philosopher, André Comte-Sponville, to help us approach the theme of emotional bridges. Following his guidance, we concluded that there are basically three kinds of emotional bridges: politeness, virtues, and love. Of these, love is the most perfect, for it alone is free of any ifs and buts. It is, we suspected, both the ultimate source and the ultimate end of all emotional bridges. This month, I suggest to turn to poetry rather than philosophy for inspiration. Who could be more competent on this theme than a poet?


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A poet's voice: Pablo Neruda, Chile (1904-73) Pablo Neruda was born hundred years ago, on 12 July 1904, in Parral, a small town 200 miles south of Santiago de Chile. Pablo Neruda is a pen name; his real name is Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He is among the most outstanding and surely among the most widely read Latin-American authors of love poems. In addition, his work also stands for the political struggle of the left on a continent whose history has known so many right-wing dictatorships. Under the government of his friend Salvador Allende, he was Chilean Ambassador to France (1970-72). In 1971, he was awarded the Literature Nobel Prize "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams," as his Nobel Diploma says. He died on 23 September 1973 in Santiago, twelve days after Pinochet's coup d'état against Allende.

As a poet, he became famous in young years with his first collection of love poems, Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada (1924) – Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair (1969). Other well-known works include Canto General, an epic poem about South America's people and destiny (1950); Las Uvas y el Viento (1954), a diary of his years of Exile in Europe; Cien sonetos de amor (1959, with poems dedicated to his wife); and Memorial de Isla Negra, an autobiographic poetic work (1964).



Veinte poemas de amor (1924)  I asked my wife to select her preferred love poem from our copy of Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada. It is titled "Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche." Here is an extract (with subsequent translation):





Escribir, por ejemplo: «La noche está estrellada,

y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos.»

El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.

Yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.

En las noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos.

La besé tantas veces bajo el cielo infinito.

Ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería.

Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.

Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido.


Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero cuánto la quise.

Mi voz buscaba el viento para tocar su oído.


Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero.

Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido.





English translation by W.S. Merwin, 1969:*

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, 'The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.


I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tries to find the wind to touch her hearing.


I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.



* The complete translation is available in Pablo Neruda: Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, translated by W.S. Merwin and published 1969 by Penguin Books in New York and London, reprint ed. 1993. This edition offers parallel Spanish texts and Merwin's translation of the poems.



Bern's oldest stone bridge  My favorite among Bern's many bridges is the "Untertorbrücke" (Lower Gate Bridge). It connects the lower old town in the bend of the Aare river with the tower on the other shore that marked the medieval entry to the city for travelers coming from the east. The original bridge was a simple wooden construction built in 1256. The current stone bridge was built from 1461 to 1490 and was last renovated in the years 1980-82. Its length is 52m; the three arches measure 13.5m, 15.6m and 13.9m, respectively.

My picture was taken on Sunday 3rd of October 2004 from the Nydegg Bridge, a neighboring bridge built in the middle of the 19th century. It connects Bern's upper old town with the famous bear pit on the Eastern shore. As it is higher than the Lower Gate Bridge, it offers a good vantage point for photographing the medieval bridge.



Technical data  Digital photograph composed of three pictures taken on 3 October 2004 at 12:42 PM with equal settings: shutter speed 1/500 second, aperture f/3.5, ISO 100, focal length 7.8 mm (equivalent to 35 mm with a conventional 35 mm camera). Original size of each picture: 1704 x 2272 pixels, memorized with "fine" compression (1.3-1.7 MB each). Original resolution of the composed picture: 4674 x 2067 pixels, compressed to 2.6 MB; current version 700 x 515 pixels, compressed to 123 KB.



October, 2004

October 2004 - Lower Gate Bridge Untertorbrücke) in the old town of Bern, Switzerland

 Bern's Lower Gate Bridge (Untertorbrücke) across the Aare river (3 Oct 2004)

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.…
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.”

Pablo Neruda in "Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche",
Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair (1969, Spanish orig. 1924)


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Last updated 17 May 2010 (layout) and 4 Oct 2004 (picture; first published 3 Oct 2004)


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