Poem Recommendations: Pablo Neruda’s Birthday Special

6 Min Read

Tasnia Shahrin

Out of all the genres of literature, poetry is often considered the most impactful one because of the power it carries within a strict form. The reason behind its influence solely rests on the pens of the legendary poets, and their techniques of communicating with the readers. There were many such poets before our generation. One of them was Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, better known by his pen name and later by his legal name,  Pablo Neruda. Born in 1904, he is considered a legendary poet of the literary world. 

Through his poems, he had created a lasting impact. That is why these poems are still celebrated today. Out of his multiple genres of poems, such as surrealistic poems, political poems; his love poems have gained immense popularity. What makes his love poems so breathtaking are the blend of multiple themes, such as of romance, passion, erotic, etc.

Out of all his spectacular poems, this list will recommend you five poems that you should definitely read to know more about Neruda’s art:


1. If you forget me

But if each day, each hour you feel
that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved, and as long as you live
it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

The lush lines of this poem makes a promise of love that everything, every moment and sensation does remind the speaker of his beloved. Some critics say that this poem is actually about his love for his homeland of Chile, while others believe that it was written in loving devotion to his wife Maltide Urrutia, but in any interpretation, it is a poem expressing deep love and passion.


2. XVII: I Do Not Love You

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

This poem shows all the ways Neruda loved his beloved. The presence of thought-provoking, dark ways make this poem unique without all the flowery nonsense of many other love poems. This is a perfect poem for an intense new love.


3. And because Love Battles

Tomorrow we will only give them
a leaf of the tree of our love, a leaf
which will fall on the earth
like if it had been made by our lips
like a kiss which falls
from our invincible heights
to show the fire and the tenderness
of a true love.


As we still live in a society where love is scrutinised through the lenses of caste, religion, race, and gender, this poem is highly recommended for poetry lovers. It is because it speaks a lot about the fierce passion of love that should not be contained within limits. In this poem, Neruda defends his choice of a lover from those who would degrade her. It is a response to those people who ask him why he isn’t with someone more special, more beautiful, etc. He quietly defends their love by saying that he loves her as she is and wouldn’t change her. They plan to show a glimpse of their love to the world — to prove the power, and glory of it. Hence, this poem is perfect for those moments when insecurity takes over a relationship.


4. Don’t go far off

Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.


If you are someone who has been through the anguish of being without your loved one, then you will surely be able to relate to this poem. This powerful poem talks about the speaker’s love for his beloved that overwhelms him.


5. Love Sonnet XI

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.


This poem is the most erotic poem on our list, as it talks about the intensity and the fierceness of his love and desire for his lover.  Neruda uses the metaphor of a jungle cat on the prowl to show how he longs for her. In only four stanzas, Neruda sweeps the reader away. Hence, despite being a short poem, it’s a very powerful one.


The writer is a part of the TDA Editorial Team. 


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