Sunday, March 22, 2020

Analysis of "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" by Pablo Neruda

Poem found here: "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" by Pablo Neruda


Love poems.  When do they become too cute and too saccharine, or when does one past the test of time and mean something more.  Does this matter?  Love poems are definitely a mood poem to me.  Not the type to return to when I'm not into love poems -- like after a fight with a loved one or missing the loved one after a long departure, but even then it can go back and forth emotionally.

For this poem, the images and thoughts are what brings me back to this poem.  This is not simply a declaration of love in verse, but something more deeper, maybe soulful.

"I don't love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz, / or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:"  No hyperbole or outward expanse of love.  At least that's what I take from these lines.  The images in the poem are in negation -- don't love, and I don't know if salt, topaz, or arrow of carnations have a bigger symbolic meaning.  It probably does, but that's not the the point.

The point comes with the next two lines, "I love you as one loves certain obscure things, / secretly, between the shadow and the soul."  Deep and intimate.  Between conceptual darkness and light.  So inward hyperbole.  "Secretly" in this context seems romantic to me, but, again taste level.  This could be read as creepy if taken literally and there's no buy in for the initial metaphor.

So how does someone love obscurely, " I love you as that plant that doesn't bloom but carries / the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,"  The potential.  Because from potential there is something bright and blooming, something the speaker enjoys and would be the one to see the growth.

"And thanks to your love that tight aroma that rose /from the earth lives dimly in my body."  A kept secret as significant and insignificant as a smell.  "tight aroma" is an interesting adjective/noun combination...what is a tight smell?

"I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where, / I love you directly without problem or pride: I love you like this because I don't know any other way to love you,"  swept up in the language.  The anaphora of "I love you" like a chant, and the lack of reason and more to emotional conclusion -- the love is the only way that feels right that I can.

"except in this form in which I am not nor are you, / so close that your hand upon my chest is mine, / so close that your eyes close with my dreams."  The line having the other chest as the speakers is a nice line that represents a oneness created through love.  The last line is an expected end for me, but why not.  In reality, in dreams, in shadow, and soul -- the speaker loves this way.

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