Throw out your New Year’s resolution. Read this instead.

You start dying slowly
if you do not travel,
if you do not read and listen to music.

You start dying slowly
when you kill your self-esteem;
do not let others help you,
when you do not find grace in yourself.

You start dying slowly
if you become a slave to your habits,
walking every day on the same path.
if you do not change your routine,
wear different colors,
and speak to those you don’t know.

You start dying slowly
if you choose black and white and dotting i’s
over feeling passion and its turbulent emotions;
the kind that make your eyes glisten,
and your heart beat faster.

You start dying slowly
if you do not allow yourself,
at least once in your life,
to run away from sound advice.

Though we cannot avoid a sudden end,
we can eliminate the small deaths,
remembering always, that being alive
requires a much greater effort than simply breathing.


I found wildly varying Portuguese-to-English translations of the poem, “A Morte Devaga.” This is my translation. I took liberties. Accredited virally to Pablo Neruda, it was in fact penned by the Brazilian author, Martha Medeiros.