On Neruda’s Poem

This is a reaction on a fervent poem of Pablo Neruda,  “If You Forget Me”. The entire  article below was penned by Arch. It is highly recommended that you listen to the poem before you go through the article.

“If You Forget Me” BY PABLO NERUDA

“If You Forget Me” was authored by a Chilean writer, Pablo Neruda. The poem unveils consequences on committing into a relationship with a love one. Neruda’s poem depicts contradicting ideas, feelings, and assumptions about the consequences of loving through his subtle application of sound in words and of speech figures.

In this essay, the persona, “I”, is denoted in masculine pronouns. Although the poem could suitably be recited by both genders, this is to avoid obscurity on explanations between the source and the primary receiver of the message of the poem.

The title of the poem, “If You Forget Me”, indicates assumptions that solely involve the consequences of loving someone who nears to one’s heart. It signals that the poem conveys paths that a couple might take when involved in a relationship. In the first person, the persona pointed out two contradicting assumptions that contribute to the meaning of the poem.

Through figures of speech, the author expressed two opposite points that people involved in a relationship must be aware of. These stands are crucial to the foundation of a long lasting relationship between couples. Also, the author has used sounds in words while emphasizing his points. The points depict two extreme faces of love: as a product of insensitivity and as a flare that is impossible to be extinguished. In the poem, the first point is mentioned before the latter.

The first stanza reveals that the persona directly commands his love one to “know one thing” that could be an assessment of his impressions to her. As he proceeds on cementing his first stance through the next stanzas, he compared his impressions to the abstract features of his love one. “The crystal moon at the red branch of the slow autumn at [his] window” is compared to the companionship that the persona desires to have – as if wanting to step beyond the lines of loneliness. The “impalpable ash” that is near the fire evokes dullness and melancholy that is irreversible because of the passion that has been exhausted and never have been an ash transformed back to exact object. Likewise, “the wrinkled body of the log” is a simile to embarrassment and roughness that the persona feels because his love one is away from him. The “aromas, light, metals” are directly associated to the boats that sail into his love one’s isles that wait for him. These assessments indicate the coldness that streaked his instinct to say the next stanza.

An assumption in the third stanza, “if little by little you stop loving me”, is intensified by the line “I shall stop loving you little by little.” The lines are products of the angst and austerity of the persona that have been revealed on the preceding stanza. If this assumption could happen, everything in the future would change because the persona has a tendency to bounce everything that he has received untouched.

If his love one would stop loving him, then their relationship is subject to forgetfulness – As expressed in the fourth stanza, it would be a bittersweet impression on the persona’s side to forget his love one. The aim to enrich relationships is history.

Heavy and bold sounds like “long and mad” and “wind of banners” produced in the fifth stanza emphasized the burden that the persona assumes that would be the ground for “lifting his arms” or finally freed him from the burdensome relationship. Furthermore, soft sounds in the stanza like “the shore of the heart where I have roots” indicate the persona’s established sensitivity amidst the lonesome situation.

As opposed to the feelings of loneliness, austerity, dullness, and melancholy; and the idea of painful acceptance of a relationship finally falling apart, the last stanzas seem to act as a light at the edge of the darkness. Facilitated with figures of speech and soft, but sharp sounds, line six is undoubtedly the most endearing and delicate part of the entire poem. The “implacable sweetness” depicts a euphonic cacophony of breadth and an optimistic result of the assumption that brings forth the palpable zeal of desire. The personification of a flower that climbs to seek the lips of the persona expresses a passionate lust which is blended with love – an eternal love. Deeply rooted to the persona’s feelings, the sorrow can then be replaced by sweetness if this assumption could happen.

These optimistic ideas are directly referred to as “fire” or the desire and passion to love that is capable of transcending through time because the trust that the couple might exchange is confidently fair and square. The poem ends with an extreme expression of feeling of release that seems to refresh the whole idea of the poem, transforming a scarred and dark face of love to a tranquil and a neutral love.

The order of the poem formed a progressive effect that enlightens a reader after reflecting on the message of the poem. The order of sounds in words, the figurative comparisons of ideas and feelings, and the order of the assumptions from dark to light signify the importance of optimism as well as the dangers of not living with it.

In an eternal relationship, the couple should realize that entering through the door of timeless love requires a thorough and an open-minded thinking. Eternal lovers pledge commitments to maintain their relationship. Even if deep problems of boundaries and distance might come, the burning flare of passion of love must remain. The consequences must surface and learned, and the knowledge should manifest and teach. For the heart is the man’s most sensitive part – that is if removed, then starting from wreckage might nearly be an impossible solution.


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