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XVII (I do not love you...)

Pablo Neruda

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Added by: Ade
I love the imagery in this poem, specifically the contrasting images between light and dark.

Take, for instance, the first three things that his love is not like:
The Salt Rose
The Topaz
The "arrow of carnations the fire shoots off" (2).

A Salt Rose is a local name for Rosa rugosa, "The grandparent of all rugosa crosses. Originating in Japan and now found throughout the world, literally hundreds of new plants have been developed from this plant and resulting crosses. Very hardy, thorny, vigorous plants produce single red scented flowers that repeat during the season. In the fall, bright red hips cover the plant. You may find this rose under many local names such as; beach rose, salt rose etc. Always check the latin name to be sure." (http://www.windsweptgardens.com/page7c.shtml).
The Topaz is a precious stone, a gem. Natural Topaz is actually colourless, but the one that comes to my mind is the honey coloured stone. However, "The name topaz is derived from the Indian Sanskrit word tapas, meaning fire. According to another theory topaz derives its name from the Island of Topazos, in the Red Sea, where the Romans obtained a stone which they called by this name, but which was the modern chrysolite or peridot. " ( http://www.all-gem-stones.com/se/topaz.html)

And, then there is the carnation image... carnations that shoot off from the fire. My interpretation of this line is the image of sparks flying off a wood fire, bright bursts of yellow/orange/red fire.

Now, with this reading of these two lines, I have noticed all three images have the element of red in it. The salt rose is red, Topaz meaning from the red sea, and the association with red and fire...
(Aside, could "arrow of carnations" be a fire-work reference in any way?)

I have trouble findnig any other commonality .... they have different life spans, they are different elements...
However, they are all fairly traditional images for love: flowers, gems, fire...

Then, Neruda contrasts that with "dark things" "in secret" "between the shadow and the soul" (3-4)

Throughout the whole piece, the light/dark imagery continues to play out.


Also, I don't know what he is claiming to love, and though it is wonderful for any reader to apply his emotion to that reader's own amour, I would hesitate before arguing his intended recipient. It could be: man, woman, parent, child, country, diety, pet, an idea, or maybe a part of himself.

I think reading the work trying to visualize each of those targets allows for many more layers of depth within the work.
PAbLo NErUdas
Added by: PabLo NerUDas's Fanatic
It illustrate the idea of true love. It gives someone a background on how should love exist in a way the it would help
Added by: Stephanie
I was deeply moved by this poem. I believe he is referring to a person (when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close). He is speaking of a complete connection to someone, one that time, distance, adn obstacels cannot fade. One that is forever. It is 'dark' in a sense because the power of it is overwhelming and moves beyond the usual human expression of love, and perhaps propriety. And it's scary the strength of that love--the kind that wakes you in the night with thoughts of that person. I think that is what Neruda is getting at. In his case it seems that the love is impossible for whatever the reason and he cannot give the love full expression (the plant that doesn't bloom but carries hidden within itself the light of those flowers.) Yet the love exists anyway, "simply and without problems". The poem is about loving someone beyond reason and rightness and timing; loving simply and completely. And above all, loving like no other thing you've ever experienced. I think that is what he's trying to express when he says what it's NOT like--it's not like the usual red rose cliche-love you see in movies. It's not the "jewel" love or even the "fire" love. Those comparisons are too overused. What drew me to the poem in the first place is that it explores the deep and earthy side of loving someone beyond all reason, and the nakedness and intimacy that comes with the total surrender of your self to the other.
secretly, between the shadow and the soul
Added by: eric taylor
The words speak of a love that transcends all reason, all rationality. There is no sense in comparing the object of love to any known thing... rather the love is experienced "secretly," as one loves "dark things" that exist "between the shadow and the soul."

This is a love that overbounds all categories, all words and thoughts, and Neruda portrays this by way of negation: "I don't love you..." and speaking of flowers that do not bloom, but rather "carries the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself."

This is a love that overwhelms the lover--the lover is lost within this secret, hidden, dark light which is the beloved, and the lover is consumed by an unburning fire within the beloved, and no line, no disctinction may be found between the two.

This love can only be expressed by the ready admission of the poet that he cannot understand, he has no answers for the "how, or when, or from where." He only loves because that is the only thing he can do.
Added by: Julio Sanchez
2004-04-26Added by: Stephanie

Thank you for your comments. They rang particularly true as it is a poem I shared with someone whom no longer loves me. What is of note is that whether asleep, awake, walking into a store, starting my car, doing something or nothing, the sentiment behind the poem is everpresent. No matter how hard I try to forget, forgive, move on, anything and everything, the love is there. It has its' own power, will, mind...
Total surrender is absolutely accurate. It is also unique.
Solid Fragrance?
Added by: Aspen
I translated these 100 Sonnets (before I knew of Stephen Tapscott lol) because my gramma wanted to read them. My translation of course has many subtle differences, but this one struck me as quite blunt and odd.

'thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.'

A solid fragrance? el apretado, literally translated, means 'the tight one'. I don't understand how 'solid' was derived from this. My translation of these two lines is:

And thanks to your love, living darkly in my body
Is your binding fragrance risen from the earth

Again, sorry to nitpick. I just don't get 'a certain solid fragrance'... maybe I'm just not an abstract thinker =P
XVII (I do not love you...)
Added by: roma
i feel this poem reveals the poets view upon what love is and what love is really. love is of course universal felt by all in many strange and tangled versions. most of us feel it is pleasant but for those who can associate with the poet, love can be opposite- dark, isolated, painful, it is not always yellow sunshine and rainbows.
Added by: Liza
If you have ever loved someone you have no clear future with; if you have ever loved one deeply, beyond waht anyone says, then you can understand what he is intending to say... I have loved this poem for a long time but I never knew why, until know.
Added by: Liza
this is a truly amazing poem, if you truly read it... I have loved this particular sonnet for years but until recently I did not understand what it truly means. Have you ever loved someone so deeply, even though there is no clear hope of a future, even though it may be wrong according to the rules of society? If you have, then I am sure you truly understand what Pablo Neruda is saying.
Sonnet XVII
Added by: Cortney
I love this poem, I have never had anything describe my feelings so well...I had this peom read to my now husband at our wedding. This is a great poem.!

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