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Pablo Neruda's "If You Forget Me"

Presented by Tym Anderson and Alexiss Mailloux
by

Tym Anderson

on 16 November 2012

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Transcript of Pablo Neruda's "If You Forget Me"

Pablo Neruda Poem Analysis Structure Sound and Sense 1904-1973 After the Spanish civil war in 1936-1939, Neruda developed an admiration for communism and communist leaders.

When he was back in Chile, in 1947 and '48, Neruda was a member of the Communist party and criticized the Chilean leadership.

In 1948 he was forced into hiding and then exile for his actions, and the Communist party was banned in Chile.

His poem "If You Forget Me" was most likely written during his exile, as it was published in a collection in 1952 when he returned home to Chile. "If You Forget Me" can be interpreted in two different ways: As if Neruda is addressing a lover, or his home country of Chile. In our analysis, we decided that he was speaking to
his country, to Chile, stating that he loves his home but will quickly forget about it if it does not love him in return. "If You Forget Me" was written in free-form, as most of Neruda's poems seem to be, but it does contain a pattern of enjambment. "I want you to know / one thing"
"the red branch / of the slow autumn"
"little boats/ that sail / towards those isles" Neruda includes this enjambment to emphasize individual words and prevent them, and their meaning, from being lost. Stanzas summarized
1- "I want you to know one thing"
2- "Everything reminds me of you"
3- "If you don't love me, I won't love you"
4- "If you forget me, I'll forget you"
5- "If you abandon me, I'll go somewhere new"
6- "If you keep loving me, I'll keep loving you"
In the first few stanzas, Neruda talks only about what he will do if he is forgotten- he would also forget.

Then he creates a volta between the final two stanzas when he recognizes an alternative to forgetting- he can love his country again (and is eager to).

This volta makes the poem more useful and significant- instead of just threatening mutual oblivion, Neruda makes it clear that he would rather continue to love his country, but only if it will return the favor. "my love feeds on your love, beloved,/ and as long as you live it will be in your arms" This is one example of the alliteration/consonance that is found in the poem which contributes to its overall euphonious sound.
This sound creates a loving tone, not a bitter one.
Combined with the many short lines like these: "remember/ that on that day,/ at that hour,"
"Well, now," and "If suddenly/ you forget me" this sound also creates a calmness, because Neruda is not wildly emotional, but collected. Neruda includes the words "destined," "sweetness," and repetition of the word "love" to express just how much love he felt, or could feel, for his country. Neruda uses "the wind of banners/ that passes through" to represent his many loyalties; to his country and to communism.

The "heart where I have roots" is a metaphor for his home, where his "roots" are.
Neruda writes "I shall lift my arms/ and my roots will set off/ to seek another land" to tell how easily he could move on. Speaker The poem was sparked by Neruda's exile from Chile.

His tone sounds fond and reluctant. He is fond of his country and reluctant to deliver it this sort of ultimatum, and reluctant to leave it behind.
Although he seems resolute, his eagerness to
keep loving Chile is apparent in the final stanza. There is catharsis in the sixth stanza, when Neruda's tone becomes happy. There is a paradox- Neruda spends the seconds stanza telling the reader that everything reminds him of home, then he goes on to say that he would forget it easily. This emphasizes that more than anything else, he needs love in return to be able to love. Metaphors The "aromas, light, metals" that Neruda mentioned might correspond to features of Chile, like buildings, the smells of streets and shops, and the lights of cities, things he remembers and longs for that are difficult to forget. Alexiss Mailloux

Tym Anderson
Full transcript