When I was 19 years old - in 1963 -I lived in New York City during the summer with my brother, David. He had just returned from the Navy and rented an apartment there.
I got a job as an elevator operator in a large apartment building that was very expensive.
I worked nights. The other operator was a man from Puerto Rico named Pedro Crespo Conte’. Pedro was also a poet.
We would talk with each other during the night. He would tell me about his adventures with all his girl friends.
One night he said to me: “Pablo, do you know Spanish?”
I said: “No, I did not study Spanish.”
He replied: “OK, well I am going to teach you a poem in Spanish so when you recite it to a Puerto Rican girl she will fall in love with you.”
I said: “Great!!”
Well, he taught me the poem, which was by a famous Puerto Rican poet, Jose P.H. Hernández,
and I practiced it with Pedro every night for a week. Then he said: “Ok, you say it good. Now just go up to a Puerto Rican girl and see what happens.”
Well, to be honest, I was very shy and also a little worried about what could happen, so I never tried to recite it to anyone.
But…I learned a great poem, which was also a song, and I still remember first part after …..54 years!!!!!!!
Here it is:
Si Dios un día cegara toda fuente de luz,
el universo se alumbraría
con esos ojos que tienes tú.
Pero si –lleno de agrios enojos
por tal blasfemia– tus lindos ojos
Dios un día te arrancase, para que el mundo
con la alborada de tu pupila no se alumbrase;
aunque quisiera, Dios no podría
tender la noche sobre la nada....
Porque aún el mundo se alumbraría
con el recuerdo de tu mirada!