You know how this is: if I look at the crystal moon, at the red branch of the slow autumn at my window, if I touch near the fire the impalpable ash or the wrinkled body of the log, everything carries me to you, as if everything that exists, aromas, light, metals, were little boats that sail toward those isles of yours that wait for me. Well, now, if little by little you stop loving me I shall stop loving you little by little. If suddenly you forget me do not look for me, for I shall already have forgotten you. If you think it long and mad, the wind of banners that passes through my life, and you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots, remember that on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms and my roots will set off to seek another land.
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.
Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet, was recognized for being one of the best worldwide. Neruda, with his South American roots, has won us over with words that leave lingering feelings in our hearts. Neruda favored communism, and often wrote politically influential poetry. Furthermore, even though Neruda was highly successful by the age of 20, he was still struggling financially, and had four unsatisfying relationships; these came to inspire many of his conflictive love poems. Neruda in the poem “If You Forget Me,” expresses himself through the art of poetry, leaving behind subtle hints of his true theme: love is mutual and both parts of the relationship have to put equal effort for it to work, he shows this by using literary devices and distinctive diction to prove this theme.
Pablo Neruda constantly uses metaphors that are symbolic to the message of his poems. Metaphors can be strong and useful because they’re a comparative point where the reader manipulates the metaphoric object, then sees how it resembles the emotion the writer is trying to convey. Most of what Neruda writes in the poem “If You Forget Me” is metaphoric of his relationship. For example, “If you think it long and mad, the wind of banners that passes through my life, and you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots (…) ” The first part uses a metaphor, which he then uses to explain what he believes she will do, which is that if she overthinks all their love’s downfalls she’ll end up focusing on the negative side thus leaving him forever. Through his metaphors Neruda describes an inner message about people and how they will only look at the negative side of things when it seems most convenient. Additionally, the second metaphor in this stanza is, “Shore of the heart where I have roots” is so deep, and perfectly describes how lost he is because he is restricted to loving her; she whom he has loved so much and perhaps for so long that it seemed as though the “roots” of his “tree” were deep inside her heart. In other words, he could never really stop loving her; you can never stop loving someone you once loved that much. Brilliantly, Neruda handles metaphors that explain so much in just a few words.
Pablo Neruda writes strongly about his loved ones at specific times in his life, so we must also rely on his diction to find out his true meaning. For example, “Remember that on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms and my roots will set off to seek another land.” That fragment right there can be interpreted in so many different ways; some may say his relationship was lacking passion or perhaps she didn’t really love him back when he needed her to etc. But, when analyzing his word choice it was led to believe that Neruda was tired of living in doubt, of not knowing if she really loved him or not; but if she were to accept she didn’t have feelings for him, he says this: “On that day, at that hour” meaning that he would begin to forget her in that instant then, “My roots will set off to seek another land” he would begin to find someone else worthy of his love. Another example, “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.” When I read this passage I see a theme, or idea, that the writer is trying to communicate to us; in the passage above, he rephrases the beginning as, “But if each day, each hour.” This is significant because he is implying that he could forget any doubt he had of her if she could just love him back. Through these lines, Neruda shows that his great diction expresses the true meaning of his poems.
Meaningful metaphors and a specific diction are some of the many techniques Pablo Neruda uses in his writing to enrich his poetry. He says so much in so little, and his words are so carefully crafted to exploit a variety of emotions, and feelings without losing any value in trying to explain his meaning directly. All that Neruda went through, all of his values, ideals, principles, beliefs, relationships; all of the ups and downs in his life; the moments of desperation and seeking for help, and the years he had to hide below basements because of the warrant for his arrest, or when his first wife left with his only child or perhaps the happier times when he loved a women so much. All of those experiences, everything that life taught him, he poured his heart into his poetry leaving us with writing so meaningful and substantial it leaves us stunned.
Pictures courtsey: Pineterest More on Neruda here: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/pablo-neruda