100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda

“I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”

His most famous Sonnet XVII, and the one that most people recognize.  South American poet, Pablo Neruda, wrote these sonnets and dedicated them all to his wife, Matilde Urrutia de Neruda . Although Neruda was known for his political poems in the 1960’s and gained popularity among North Americans for this reason, his sonnets are the poems I like best.

For me, sonnets explore human passion, and the style of them is simple and direct. The standard definition of a sonnet is a poem made up of fourteen lines written to express emotion or contemplative thoughts. I prefer sonnets to any other kind of poetry.

Neruda’s sonnets are beautiful. He talks about lightning, wood, water, sea, fire – always comparing his wife – her skin, her eyes, her hands, their love for each other, to the earth and earth’s elements. His wife is his universe, and I am not sure there has been a muse more celebrated in modern-day poetry.

Cien Sonetos de Amor is divided into four sections; Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Night. Neruda uses each section to describe a bit of Matilde.

Heres the rest of Sonnet XVII

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
So I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.


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