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.