Monday, January 16, 2017

Analysis of "I Remember You As You Were" by Pablo Neruda



The poem is written in four quatrains.  The poem lingers with its images -- the grey beret and the idea of autumn to create a poem of lament or celebration perhaps.

I remember you as you were in the last autumn.
You were the grey beret and the still heart
In your eyes the flames of the twilight fought on.
And the leaves fell in the water of your soul.
All the quatrains are end-stopped, so every quatrain feels like a scene.  Here the speaker first notices the other with "grey beret and the still heart" -- the visual que; however, note the contrasting images of the flames in the eyes and the water of the soul.  These images usually don't come together unless to compare something.  My guess the comparison refers to the external aspect versus the internal.

Clasping my arms like a climbing plant
the leaves garnered your voice, that was slow and at peace.
Bonfire of awe in which my thirst was burning.
Sweet blue hyacinth twisted over my soul.

Desire?  Want? Lust?  The second half of this stanza takes over sine the emotion comes out in the forefront.  What is actually happening is the the other is holding on to the speaker and the thoughts come up -- a fire and a flower entangling with the self and want.

I feel your eyes traveling, and the autumn is far off:
Grey beret, voice of a bird, heart like a house
Towards which my deep longings migrated
And my kisses fell, happy as embers.
This feels more like a dream sequence rather than an actual affair.  The phrase, "the autumn is far off," seems like time has passed between the moment and what the speaker remembers.  Furthermore, the images of the other are the same, but the simile of "heart like a house," feels like a forced image.  Something to come back as a memory.  Sure, the affair can be implied; however, does it matter -- it's what the speaker remembers from action to touch, "And my kisses fell, happy as embers."

Sky from a ship.  Field from the hills:
Your memory is made of light, of smoke, of a still pond!
Beyond your eyes, farther on, the evenings were blazing.
Dry autumn leaves revolved in your soul.

The expansive images in the first line creates a distance from the speaker and the other, "Sky from a ship. Field from the hills" which parallels the memories -- something hazy of light and smoke and a pond.

But the speaker goes back to the memories and focuses on the eyes -- those blazing eyes and that leaves of the soul.

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