Saturday, 31 October 2015

Tonight I can Write the Saddest Lines                                                         Pablo Neruda

  1. Examine the uniqueness of “Tonight I can Write the Saddest Lines” as a confessional love poem.
  2. Compare the treatment of the theme of parting in “Tonight I can Write the Saddest Lines” with that of “When We Two Parted” and “Valediction Forbidding Mourning”
Pablo Neruda is the great poet of Chile. He was a communist and a revolutionary poet. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. ‘Tonight I can Write the Saddest Lines’ is one of the most celebrated and original of the poems of Neruda. It is a monologue written in a confessional mood, lamenting the loss of love of a jilted lover. The lover contemplates the natural world, the night, the stars, the wind, everything that reminds him of his lost love. The night and the darkness match his sad mood. The lover confesses that tonight he is writing the saddest lines and thereby he is ritually killing his lady love with his pen which becomes his mighty sword!

The poet uses nature image and symbolism to express the lost love.  Words such as “The night is shattered and the blue stars shiver in the distance”. The lover says “ my heart looks for her”.;  at the same time he says” she loved me, sometimes. This tone is repeated in an opposite style “ I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too”. Thus he confesses that their love was not genuine or sincere. But he again confesses that her love gave him maximum pleasure. This is why even when she left him to become another man’s wife, he says “ My sight searches for her, My heart looks for her, My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing”. But the beauty of their love reaches when the lover confesses “Love is short, but forgetting so long”. Thus the love poem reaches universal level. Pablo Neruda gives all of us our love poem which we hug to our heart with great satisfaction and whisper every line of it in our solitude. This is genuine love poem meant for every human being who is born to love and be loved!

Let us compare this love poem with “When We Two Parted”. It is a love poem written by Lord Byron. The speaker calls to mind how his heart used to swell with joy in the company of his lady love. Soon the lover comes to know that the reputation of his lady love is lost because she had an affair with another man and the public knew it. It was a rude shock to the lover and they were separated silently and in tears. The whole poem is a recollection of his past lost love for her. . When she became a subject of gossip, the lover
did not know how to face her. The loss of her good name was stronger than the loss of her love for him. There is one similarity between the two poems. The love is very short but forgetting is very, very long.


John Donne’s poem “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning” is also a love poem addressed by the poet to his wife. It is metaphysical poem and love is elevated to spiritual, ideal level. In the poem love compared to the peaceful death of a good man, the expansion of pure gold and stiff but twin compasses. The startling images and hyperboles and other shocking ideas distinguish this poem from the other two love poems. But common man loves Pablo Neruda’s love poem “Tonight I can write the Saddest Lines” because of its familiar day today images and ideas.

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