The Saddest Verses

Pablo Neruda’s “I can write the saddest verses” is a beautiful poem that desperately tries to comprehend heartbreak. In a way, he has come to terms with the loss of a great love in his life, but recognizes that sadness will linger, no matter how pragmatically he chooses to approach his loss. The title and first two lines–“I can write the saddest verses tonight./Write, for example ‘The night is shattered with stars, twinkling blue, in the distance’”–suggests that although he could revel in and romanticize his sorrows as do many poets, he instead evokes a feeling of sheer hopelessness; nothing will make his loss better; a tragic, but realistic perspective of the human condition – relationships, emotions, and experiences that all end in loss (ultimately, death).

The line “Love is so short, and forgetting is so long” is a hauntingly honest line in this poem. This feeling is so realistic and universal, also bringing up the question is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Although Neruda is attempting to accept his loss, he repeatedly writes “I no longer love her, it’s true, but maybe I love her.” In this line, he genuinely reveals the complications of relationships that are ineffable; love is far from black and white, and he fully understands that whether or not he says he loves her, a mixture of feelings – love, loss, appreciation, sadness, hopelessness – will be present in his “soul” for a long time.

In “I can write the saddest verses,” Neruda brings up the most painful aspects about losing someone; imagining her with someone else (Another’s. She will be another’s), dwelling on subtle characteristics (Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes), feeling that everything in life is somehow devalued, now that he has lost her (To hear the immense night, more immense without her). While there are incredible echoes of hopelessness in this poem, it is possible to find some optimism in the last two lines. This poem seems to act as a sort of therapy for Neruda with the continued attempts of recognition and acceptance of his loss. The last lines are heartbreaking, but also open up possibility. If these are in fact the last verses he writes to her, it suggests that he is closing this chapter in his life and possibly making room for new love.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Saddest Verses

  1. Jen Green says:

    This is also one of my favorite Neruda love poems and actually one of the first poems I read of his. I think it is astonishing to realize that Neruda wrote this poem and the other 19 of his love poems when he was only 19/20 years old. The passion and despair of a young adult is not absent in the poem by any means, and Neruda himself even seems to poke fun at it when he writes an example of the disheartened and somewhat exaggerated lines he feels inclined to write: “for example,’The night is shattered/and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'” But as you noted in your post there is also a high awareness for the perennial nature of love, even when the object of it appears to be fleeting. He writes with an appreciation for and insight in relationships, as well as the human condition of “heart break,” that is beyond his years; and therefore speaks to his inherent understanding of the universally connecting elements at the core of humanity. It comes as no surprise that he went onto writing very surrealist poetry after his love poems, as it seems he had already begun to reach past the examination of individual tragedies, and was in search of an anguish much larger and all encompassing.

Comments are closed.