"But if each day each hour you feel that you are destined for me with implacable sweetness…"
By far one of the most talented voices in South American literature, Pablo Neruda's poems make for a lasting legacy that keeps him at the forefront of modern poetry to this day. His love poems are romantic, erotic, thrilling and breathtaking — and works that anyone who has experienced love should know.
He wrote in a variety of styles, including surrealist poems and political manifestos, but his love poems — which he started writing at merely 10 years old — have sold millions copies and been translated into many different languages. He often wrote in green ink, which was his personal symbol for desire and hope.
But if each day, each hour you feel
that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness
if each day a flower climbs up to your lips to seek me
ah my love, ah my own
in me all that fire is repeated
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten
my love feeds on your love, beloved and as long as you live
it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.
Neruda challenges his love to either stay true forever, or forget him and move on, for he proclaims that he will have similarly moved on. The stunning lines promise his love that everything, every moment and sensation, reminds him of her. Some critics believe this poem is actually about his love for his homeland of Chile, while other believe that it was written in loving devotion to his wife Maltide Urrutia, but in any interpretation, it is a poem expressing deep love and passion. Read this to your honey if you are sure of your relationship and are planning on the long haul.
Don’t let the title fool you. This is a poem detailing the way in which Neruda does indeed love his listener. He loves her not for being beautiful like a rose or topaz, or being fiery like a carnation, but because he sees something in her worth loving, something that she does not share with the rest of the world. I do not love you... shows all the ways Neruda loves his paramour. They are unique, dark ways, presented without all the flowery nonsense of many other love poems. This is a perfect poem for an intense new love.
Tomorrow we will only give them
a leaf of the tree of our love, a leaf
which will fall on the earth
like if it had been made by our lips
like a kiss which falls
from our invincible heights
to show the fire and the tenderness
of a true love.
In this poem, Neruda defends his choice of a lover from those who would degrade her. People ask him why his isn't with someone more special, more beautiful, etc. He quietly defends their love by saying that he loves her as she is and wouldn't change her. They plan to show the world just a glimpse of their love, to prove the power and glory of it. Read this to your sweetie when he or she is feeling insecure, and you want to reassure them of your love.
Don't leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.
Neruda pleads with his lover not to leave, even for a short while. He claims that the anguish of being without her would surely kill him, and reading Don't Go Far Off, you begin to believe him. The love that he bares for her is overwhelming, countered by the brevity of the poem. He ends on a negative note, asking if she will let him die by leaving even for an hour, but the love he carries for her converts that negativity into something beautiful. Another great poem for new love.
I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
The most erotic poem on our list, Love Sonnet XI details with quiet intensity the fierceness of his love and desire for his paramour. Not to be mistaken for literal cannibalism, the author wants to consume his lover. Neruda likens himself to a jungle cat on the prowl, desperate for her. It is a short poem, but one that makes a big impact. In only four stanzas, Neruda sweeps the reader away. Use this one carefully, because it leaves a lasting memory.
My words rained over you, stroking you
A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of you body
Until I even believe that you own the universe
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains,
bluebells, dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses
I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.
In Every Day You Play..., Neruda likens his love to the light of the universe. He describes things that happen all over the world, including storms that overturn boats and butterflies getting lost in the wind. He ends the poem by saying that he will not stop loving her until he is sure that she owns the universe. This poem is both romantic and erotic, perfect for a deep love.
And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms
that push back the shadows so that you can rest
vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.
In XXXIV (You are the daughter of the sea), Neruda says that every move his love makes, the earth and the sea swells and moves. Pure like water and full of flowers, Neruda can't help but fall more in love with her. He soaks up his love in everything that she is, as though- like the earth- she is everything that is keeping him alive. It is a very passion-filled poem by Neruda.
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