Literature Monday: Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XVII

I was required to take a language course two years ago, and the choice was between English and French. While it may have been more practical to take French (which is one of Canada’s two official languages), my decision was, more than anything, swayed by my love of Pablo Neruda. And so I spent two semesters learning basic Spanish – which gave me the tools to pick up on the beauty of his poetry in the language it was written in. Sonnet XVII is one of my favourites in Cien Sonetos de Amor.

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.

(Poem: Sonnet XVII, written by Pablo Neruda, from Cien Sonetos de Amor.)

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