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Saddest Poem -- Pablo Neruda

Guest poem sent in by Suchitra
(Poem #605) Saddest Poem
 I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.

 Write, for instance: "The night is full of stars,
 and the stars, blue, shiver in the distance."

 The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.

 I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
 I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

 On nights like this, I held her in my arms.
 I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky.

 She loved me, sometimes I loved her.
 How could I not have loved her large, still eyes?

 I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
 To think I don't have her. To feel that I've lost her.

 To hear the immense night, more immense without her.
 And the poem falls to the soul as dew to grass.

 What does it matter that my love couldn't keep her.
 The night is full of stars and she is not with me.

 That's all. Far away, someone sings. Far away.
 My soul is lost without her.

 As if to bring her near, my eyes search for her.
 My heart searches for her and she is not with me.

 The same night that whitens the same trees.
 We, we who were, we are the same no longer.

 I no longer love her, true, but how much I loved her.
 My voice searched the wind to touch her ear.

 Someone else's. She will be someone else's. As she once
 belonged to my kisses.
 Her voice, her light body. Her infinite eyes.

 I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I love her.
 Love is so short and oblivion so long.

 Because on nights like this I held her in my arms,
 my soul is lost without her.

 Although this may be the last pain she causes me,
 and this may be the last poem I write for her.
-- Pablo Neruda
I've always liked sad poems since they are almost always beautiful. But the
first time  I was moved to tears was by this poem that I stumbled across on
the internet. I think the poem is both simple and powerful. I also like the
poet's admission of perhaps, trying to write a sad poem. He repeats this a
few times initially - you expect him to keep this up - but then his
description of his love, and his emotion seems to overtake him.

I also like the poem's candid approach to love. It is a poet's misery over
the loss of the feeling of  love, rather than of his lover - as in the lines
"I no longer love her true, but how much I loved her". Also small touches of
irony like "She loved me, sometimes I loved her". But best of all, I love
the last line (the saddest line of all?) - for (I imagine) what can be
worse for a romantic poet than to stop writing about his lost love?


Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)  - Original name Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto.
Winner of the  Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 "for a poetry that with
the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and

Chilean poet, diplomat, and Marxist, Neruda is the most widely read of the
Spanish American poets. Neruda first gained international fame in 1924 as an
writer with VEINTE POEMAS DE AMOR Y UNA CANCÍON, which is his most widely
read work. From the 1940s his works reflected the political struggle of
peasants and workers and socio-historical developments in South America, but
he also wrote love poems. Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
(1924) have sold over a million copies since it first appeared.

"Poetry is a deep inner calling in man; from it came liturgy, the psalms,
and also the content of religions." (from Memoirs, 1974)

"He was once referred as the Picasso of poetry, alluding to his protean
ability to be always in the vanguard of change. And he himself has often
alluded to his personal struggle with his own tradition, to his constant
need to search for a new system in each book." (Rene de Costa in The Poetry
of Pablo Neruda, 1979)

[Links to other poems]

[broken link]


27 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Frank said...

another translation of Neurada which reads
"Tonight I can write the saddest lines"
on the CBSE senior secondary course
appeals to me more.

frank krishner

JMiss42577 said...

While I agree with you that Neruda was wrting about the loss of love, I
believe that it was about a particuliar lost love, not just the loss of that
feeling--that is too broad. Have you never stood under the moon and knowing
that its the same moon which illuminates the one you have lost, have you
never listened to a song and know its the same notes that careass his ears?
That all is the same but different. This is a poem of unbelievable heartach,
that he truely loved someone and is attempting to exorcise her through the
only way he knows how. His last line is a desperate plea.....this may be too
sentimental , but thats what the poem means to me.

Richard said...

hi iwas wondering where you got this excerpt in your post

Have you never stood under the moon and knowing
that its the same moon which illuminates the one you have lost, have you
never listened to a song and know its the same notes that careass his ears

Thank you

P.P said...

Since I can speak Spanish and English and this has been by favorite poem
since I was child; I felt that my inside could be valuable. "Tonight, I
can write the saddest line ." is a much better translation for what the poet
intended in this line. His emphasis is meant to be on 'tonight" the night
and his state of being make it possible for him to write the lines.(versos)
. "Forgetting" also matches better the word that the poet used as opposed to
"oblivion" . In terms of what the poem is about, is about a lover lamenting
the lost of his lover and the feeling of loosing her and still loving her.(
his heart is obviously aching with pain and sorrow) I could go on and give
details but in general this is what the poem is about.

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Ellenkhay boñon said...

oh thank you everyone for your view on this , I'm actually researching about this for my Literature Class and You have Helped me , So thank You and By the Way All your Points are Right :) and it Is Indeed a Poem that moves

Anonymous said...

Call me an illiterate idiot with no soul for saying so but it hasn't managed to touch me quite yet and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it but for some reason I can't feel anything heart wrenching though the lines are powerful I feel the vibe is weak but that's just me and I probably suck at interpreting

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