Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

Drawn from the most intimate and personal associations, Pablo Neruda's most beloved collection of poetry juxtaposes the exuberance of youthful passion with the desolation of grief, the sensuality of the body with the metaphorical nuances of nature. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W. S. Merwin's masterly translation faces the original Spanish text. This edition also features an...

Title:Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0143039962
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:70 pages

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair Reviews

  • vie
    Aug 08, 2007

    I do not love you except because I love you;

    I go from loving to not loving you,

    From waiting to not waiting for you

    My heart moves from cold to fire.

    I love you only because it's you the one I love;

    I hate you deeply, and hating you

    Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you

    Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

    Maybe January light will consume

    My heart with its cruel

    Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

    In this part of the story I am the one who

    Dies, the only one, and I will die of l

    I do not love you except because I love you;

    I go from loving to not loving you,

    From waiting to not waiting for you

    My heart moves from cold to fire.

    I love you only because it's you the one I love;

    I hate you deeply, and hating you

    Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you

    Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

    Maybe January light will consume

    My heart with its cruel

    Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

    In this part of the story I am the one who

    Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,

    Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.

    worthy book for all the tragic romantikus outthere =P

  • Danny
    Mar 14, 2008

    Tonight I Can Write

    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

    Write, for example, "The night is starry

    and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance."

    The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

    I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

    Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.

    I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

    She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.

    How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

    Tonight I can write th

    Tonight I Can Write

    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

    Write, for example, "The night is starry

    and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance."

    The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

    I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

    Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.

    I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

    She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.

    How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

    To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

    To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.

    And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

    What does it matter that my love could not keep her.

    The night is starry and she is not with me.

    This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.

    My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

    My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.

    My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

    The same night whitening the same trees.

    We, of that time, are no longer the same.

    I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.

    My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

    Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.

    Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

    I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.

    Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

    Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms

    my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

    Though this is the last pain that she makes me suffer

    and these the last verses that I write for her.

  • Richard
    Jun 24, 2011

    3 THINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK

    1. I went to Pablo Neruda's house once. Well, I went to one of his houses. He had three of them. I was teaching English in Santiago, Chile at the time. I went to Neruda's house in Valparaiso, which is a beach town. Weirdly enough, I visited on my twentieth birthday, on a lark, because I just happened to be vacationing in a nearby cabin with my host family.

    The thing that I remember about Pablo Neruda's house is that it's set back in a grove of dark pine trees and that ther

    3 THINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK

    1. I went to Pablo Neruda's house once. Well, I went to one of his houses. He had three of them. I was teaching English in Santiago, Chile at the time. I went to Neruda's house in Valparaiso, which is a beach town. Weirdly enough, I visited on my twentieth birthday, on a lark, because I just happened to be vacationing in a nearby cabin with my host family.

    The thing that I remember about Pablo Neruda's house is that it's set back in a grove of dark pine trees and that there's sand everywhere. The sky was dark that day and it was cold, even though it was in the summer.

    What I remember most about the experience wasn't the house itself, or the tour, or the nationalistic trinkets that vendors were trying to sell, but rather the feeling that the pine trees around the house evoked. They were like a dark magic that still sits in my mind six years later. Curious. Because this is the thing that stands out to me most about Neruda's poetry: the magnetic feeling of nature. The dirt and the flesh and the elements and the cold, wet, hot, dry. His poetry is so sensual, so primal, so tied to the earth (I know I sound like a hippie, but its

    ). When I look at my journal entries from this period in my life they're full of this sort of talk. I wrote about stars and cloud formations and the consistency of mud and the shape of a cheekbone. Southern Chile does this to you. The land casts a spell on you. Neruda put this spell into words.

    2. I read "Twenty Love Poems" about five years ago, but I thought it was corny at the time. The edition I read had all these terrible erotic etchings in it. I hate that. I almost threw up. I don't believe in illustration much, because it insults the reader's imagination. Especially illustration in poetry, a genre which usually uses abstract images.

    This time when I read "Twenty Love Poems" I read it slowly. And it reminded me of southern Chile. It reminded me of gloomy mountains, and the beauty of the rivers and clouds and the darkness of the ocean. It reminded me of that period of time, when I turned twenty, right before my life changed in many ways.

    This time when I read "Twenty Love Poems" it meant something to me, because now I have been in love. I have been in love and have experienced all of the sorrows and thrills of love. Mostly sorrows. But the hope of future thrills.

    3. I found a musty Time/Life book about South America at a thrift store near my house. In the book there is a photograph of Mr. Neruda seated at a wooden desk at his house in Valparaiso. He is wearing a sweater and staring out the window. He has a pen and ink in front of him and he is holding his head as though he's deep in thought or distressed. Or both. I have hung this picture up in my apartment. It makes me want to write. It makes me remember all of the dark clouds. It makes me remember that

  • Jibran
    Dec 30, 2014

    Pablo Neruda – the name evokes romance and revolution in my consciousness, a riot of metaphors and action, a turbo charged celebration of love and beauty, a flood of high emotions that assails my senses and dulls them so that the only thing I am receptive to when I have Neruda’s verse before me is but his verse. Everything else bl

    Pablo Neruda – the name evokes romance and revolution in my consciousness, a riot of metaphors and action, a turbo charged celebration of love and beauty, a flood of high emotions that assails my senses and dulls them so that the only thing I am receptive to when I have Neruda’s verse before me is but his verse. Everything else blacks out and I’m transported to a world I have never seen before – and it's beautiful, it is magnificent, it is dancing with the joy of love!

    I’m not a very big fan of the worn-out familiarity of love poetry, or second-rate love poetry, to be precise. The title of the collection didn't quite interest me, and so I wasn't sure what to expect, but having heard so much praise for Pablo Neruda I wanted to sample his poetry.

    I was stumped, stunned, silenced. From the very first poem Neruda shamed me. From the third poem onwards I had a sheepish grin on my face of a man who has just realised he's been a fool. By the time I reached the end of the collection I became Neruda’s devotee. And so I am to this day and will remain forever!

    I had never desired to learn Spanish, but after reading Neruda I wished I could find a way to experience him in the original, just as I wish I could improve my Persian to read Hafez and Rumi without the medium of translation. I really don't know how much of Neruda's Spanish is

    , but whatever that has come down to us in English is more than sufficient to adore him.

    There is no one who so brilliantly marries nature's metaphors of earth, sea, wind, trees, moon, stars with the enchanting anatomy of the beloved. Every line testifies to Neruda's unique way of perceiving nature; he likens the beloved to nature, his beloved

    the nature. It is through meditations on the vast agricultural richness of his land that he finds the beloved, in the form of liberty, or in shape of an elusive woman, sometimes as an inextricable amalgamation of the two. From the first poem to the last, they are inseparable.

    It is hard to make selections from this book; every poem is a work of wonder. Instead of copying many full-length poems, I am sampling select lines to glimpse at the quality of Neruda's metaphors and similes, the urgency of action encoded in few words, the luxuriant aspect of his imagery, the finesse of his thought, and the intensity of his style. Below are some of my favourite, quotable lines:

    The simple, fast and action-packed eroticism of the first lines of the opening poem,

    .

    "Body of a woman, white hills, white thighs,

    you look like a world, lying in surrender.

    My rough peasant’s body digs in you

    and makes the son leap from the depth of the earth."

    And see how, later on, from the 'white hills, white thighs', on which he gambols about with pleasure, she is transformed into a 'weapon' that offers him protection and provides him succor, through a process that remains a mystery to the poet and the reader:

    "I was alone like a tunnel. The birds fled from me,

    and night swamped me with its crushing invasion.

    To survive myself I forged you like a weapon,

    like an arrow in my bow, a stone in my sling."

    In

    we have a 'cloudless girl', who shines like a clear sky, antithesis of greyness, and who is so vast and all-encompassing that her presence is felt everywhere. But she is unknown and mysterious; she is a 'question of smoke', that appears and dissolves the next instance, without giving him a moment to regroup his shattered perceptions; she is as soft and silky as a 'corn tassel'. You can appreciate the finesse of this metaphor if you have pressed a corn tassel between your fingers!

    In this poem the beloved is cast into a formidable natural force that envelops and dominates the small and insignificant existence of the lover. He is in awe of her. This poem is asking to be quoted in full, without omission. So here it is.

    "Almost out of the sky, half of the moon

    anchors between two mountains.

    Turning, wandering night, the digger of eyes.

    Let’s see how many stars are smashed in the pool.

    It makes a cross of mourning between my eyes,

    and runs away.

    Forge of blue metals, nights of still combats,

    my heart revolves like a crazy wheel.

    Girl who have come from so far, been brought from so far,

    sometimes your glance flashes out under the sky.

    Rumbling, storm, cyclone of fury,

    you cross above my heart without stopping.

    Wind from the tombs carries off, wrecks, scatters your

    sleepy root.

    The big trees on the other side of her, uprooted.

    But you, cloudless girl, question of smoke, corn tassel.

    You were what the wind was making with illuminated leaves.

    Behind the nocturnal mountains, white lily of conflagration,

    ah, I can say nothing! You were made of everything.

    Longing that sliced my breast into pieces,

    it is time to take another road, on which she does not smile.

    Storm that buried the bells, muddy swirl of torments,

    why touch her now, why make her sad.

    Oh to follow the road that leads away from everything,

    without anguish, death, winter waiting along it

    with their eyes open through the dew."

    From

    , Neruda finds the beloved in the most unlikely places. Holding a cluster of fruit is like holding beloved’s head:

    "Every day you play with the light of the universe.

    Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.

    You are more than this white head that I hold tightly

    as a cluster of fruit, every day, between my hands.

    You are like nobody since I love you.

    Let me spread you out among yellow garlands.

    Who writes your name in letters of smoke among the stars

    of the south?

    Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.

    Suddenly the wind howls and bangs at my shut window.

    The sky is a net crammed with shadowy fish.

    Here all the winds let go sooner or later, all of them.

    The rain takes off her clothes."

    And further on:

    "You are here. Oh, you do not run away.

    You will answer me to the last cry.

    Cling to me as though you were frightened.

    Even so, at one time a strange shadow ran through your eyes.

    How you must have suffered getting accustomed to me,

    my savage, solitary soul, my name that sends them all running.

    So many times we have seen the morning star burn, kissing our eyes,

    and over our heads the grey light unwind in turning fans."

    Neruda ends the poem with a striking image:

    "I want

    to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees."

    --

    Originally posted 30/12/14

  • sweet jane
    Sep 04, 2016
  • Michael Finocchiaro
    Sep 10, 2016

    One of the most beautiful collection of love poems ever (and followed by one which will bring tears to your eyes), Neruda is clearly a master of language and feeling and I always derive comfort from every time I read this book.

    One of the most beautiful collection of love poems ever (and followed by one which will bring tears to your eyes), Neruda is clearly a master of language and feeling and I always derive comfort from every time I read this book.

    Kind of speaks for itself, don't you think?

  • Seemita
    Dec 21, 2016

    Tempting as it may appear to wrap the poetic pearls from this collection of Neruda’s heartbeats into a warm shawl of erotic wool, do resist it and pause.

    These loquacious verses that assemble at the nape of a lover or ripple playfully across the soft mountains of a beloved’s waist, magnify when viewed through the dual lenses of

    and

    .

    Tempting as it may appear to wrap the poetic pearls from this collection of Neruda’s heartbeats into a warm shawl of erotic wool, do resist it and pause.

    These loquacious verses that assemble at the nape of a lover or ripple playfully across the soft mountains of a beloved’s waist, magnify when viewed through the dual lenses of

    and

    .

    Throughout this collection, there are elements that sprout from these two shores, taking their own boundless attire once left to the ocean of the author’s imagination. I found it interesting to note that Neruda wrote these poems when he was just 19, implying the failures of his political aspirations and love relationships, besides his daughter’s premature death were still far away. Despite none of the later-years’ blackness charring his soul, his propensity to hinge his ode on

    and

    mirrors a certain yearning that isn’t a slave of reciprocity or longevity. Like the night and the nocturnal swagger, arousal is a reality and yet a mirage, something that will come in certainty but will be short-lived. Like the adaptability and slightness of water, love can superimpose rebuttals and tide over long leaps of unrequited love to reach a state where it will be nothing but itself, complete and calm.

    Neruda’s poems personify a charming surrender that fortifies the vulnerability of new love and removes the shame out of the advances that are nothing but a chime before the music.

    His hero gets high on the flowers and seasons, on the days and the night, on proximity and distance, on silence and chatter – his hero is the quintessential lover who refuses to let the flame of his emotion die, shielding it with verses after verses of untamable urgency. And with the final poem, one can almost imagine him slumping to the ground, dropping his gaze from his object of love and yet, not allowing the humming of his heart to lay still.

  • Steven  Godin
    Mar 25, 2017

    Sensual poetic beauty, with a lingering sadness, this collection of poems written when Chilean Neruda was only 19 is a remarkable feat, but was not received well for the intense and sexual content, this time being 1924 I can understand why, however, there is no explicit text it's more to do with imagery using the surrounding environment, charting oceanic movements of passion along with the changing weather, to tell of youthful love. " I have gone marking the atlas of your body / with crosses of

    Sensual poetic beauty, with a lingering sadness, this collection of poems written when Chilean Neruda was only 19 is a remarkable feat, but was not received well for the intense and sexual content, this time being 1924 I can understand why, however, there is no explicit text it's more to do with imagery using the surrounding environment, charting oceanic movements of passion along with the changing weather, to tell of youthful love. " I have gone marking the atlas of your body / with crosses of fire. / My mouth went across: a spider, trying to hide. / In you, behind you, timid, driven by thirst.''. Becoming Neruda's best-loved work selling two million copies by the 1960s. Why? the imagery he conjures up is simply breathtaking but also painfully sad. ``On all sides I see your waist of fog, / and your silence hunts down my afflicted hours; / my kisses anchor, and my moist desire nests / in you with your arms of transparent stone.'' As irresistible as the sea, love is engulfing (``You swallowed everything, like distance. / . . . In you everything sank!''), but also departs as mysteriously as it arrived, leaving the poet's heart a ``pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.''

    In terms of the intensity of romance and the tenderness of love, this collection encapsulates so much, each piece stands alone, but always remains close to the others.

    Of the 20 poems on offer, not all made sense to me on first reading, but at only 70 pages in length, I will certainly be re-visiting in time. And then there's the seething "Song of Despair", a breakup song if I ever heard one, this for me was the highlight, words of such searing torment that were expressed with a heartbroken urgency. At such a young age, Neruda paints a mature picture of the abstract representations of life. To the contrary, the poems represent an open curiosity for different dimensions of life like sexuality, solitude, melancholy, and loss. Also, he does not idealize beauty and love, making his poetry far more authentically realistic. Nature is a constant presence throughout, with stars, rivers, wind, sky and sea reappearing in different contexts, lovers become nature itself. You can truly feel that each poem is reaching out to the other, sharing the same pleasure and plight.

    Highly recommended 5/5


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