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Sonnet XVII: Love -- Pablo Neruda

Guest poem submitted by Sudha Shastri:
(Poem #422) Sonnet XVII: Love
I don't love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn't bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don't know any other way of loving

but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.
-- Pablo Neruda
Translated by Stephen Mitchell

An Italian sonnet (Petrarchan form), where the 14 lines are divided as 8
(octave) + 6 (sestet). Usually this form is characterised by a 'turn' in the
thought after the octave, but here the divide seems to be rather differently
achieved. Almost (?) ironical the way the octave elaborately labours the ways of
loving ( reminds me of 'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?' ) and the
sestet tersely dismisses the possibility of a successful description of the

As for theme, well, it carries echoes and echoes from mostly Renaissance poetry.
The octave in particular reminds me of Viola's description of her love in
'Twelfth Night' - the oft-quoted 'Patience on a monument' speech.

Also, I wonder if the anaphora helps.

S Shastri.


'Anaphora' - repetition of a word or expression at the beginning of successive
phrases, clauses, sentences, or verses especially for rhetorical or poetic
effect <Lincoln's "we cannot dedicate--we cannot
consecrate--we                      cannot hallow--this ground" is an example>

        -- Merriam-Webster,

- t.]

29 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Laurie Lucchina said...


Anonymous said...


Alioth said...

Just noting that the translator of this particular version of this poem is Stephen Mitchell. Source:

Jaenna said...

I just hope my beshie realizes that I love him so much...I may not be long legged, sexy, and gorgeous, but I have a loyal heart, loving him unconditionally, flaws and all...

Anonymous said...

And I feel for him the same way..

viagra online said...

Pablo Neruda can provoke a incredible flow of sentiments with his poems, gracias por el post compaƱero.

Anonymous said...

this is deep

Anonymous said...

incredible, love is power

Anonymous said...

wow this is how i feel for her

JessNguyen 3nk said...

I just almost cry when reading the line "I love you in this way because I don't know any other way of loving" It's so sweet

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