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Love Sonnet XI -- Pablo Neruda

Guest poem sent in by atheos
(Poem #1157) Love Sonnet XI
 I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
 Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
 Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
 I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

 I hunger for your sleek laugh,
 your hands the color of a savage harvest,
 hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
 I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

 I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
 the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
 I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

 and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
 hunting for you, for your hot heart,
 like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.
-- Pablo Neruda
This is the first thing that comes to mind when I think Neruda. I
read it quite a while back but it has stayed with me... The sheer
intensity of what he's feeling comes through, and grips you and
elevates you. It makes me feel like there is music and drama and
poetry in living, that makes it hard to feel indifferent, numb.
Every time I read it, I catch my breath; I am swept up by it all
over again.

If I were to analyse it tongue in cheek, I would say it should be
titled My Love to Me a Meal Is. And proceed to demonstrate how
he's sublimating his passion by using verbs of the culinary
persuasion. Grin. Alternatively, I could choose to take him
literally, and proceed to demonstrate that this is Dr. Hannibal
Lecter, who's taken over Neruda's life. After eating him, of

More seriously, though, I think it's a beautiful poem. There are
references to him as a hunter - I think of a large, beautiful
jungle cat padding around on empty, cobbled streets. I can see the
twitch of its tail and the flare of nostrils. Hungry. Hunting.
His (the translator's?) turn of phrase is lovely; "Bread does not
nourish me" "the liquid measure of your steps" "for your hot
heart" - all these sound so right that the rightness, the
resonance of the words leaves you dazed.

I think it's a good counterpoint to the other poem we saw a few
days back [Poem #1149], don't you?


52 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Indian Girl said...

oh , i love neruda and I love this poem, who else could have written, "I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps."

Anonymous said...

This poem sucks! Im reading it for an english class

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Anonymous said...

msybe this peom translate also in filipino

Anonymous said...

I think I just fell in love with Neruda. He really has a way with words... such a sweet poem.. =)

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Pilot Guy said...

Hello there
This is a fine - but obvious - choice
Everyone always ignore sonnet 17 - which I believe is infinitely superior.
Neruda is never subtle - but you can show yours - by trying Soonet 17
Those in the know - will nod and wink.

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