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In 1971 Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Summary
This poem is about a person who every action he made, every feeling, every choice depends on other's behavior. If the other part stop loving him, he will not keep going any love feeling. However, he goes on to say that if the other part he love decides to devote their time to loving him, he will devote his time too. The main character is someone who cares for a love so much that he cannot refuse all of the requests. Theme
It contains themes of love and devotion. The character is willing to give up his love if the other part he loves does not return the feelings. This person loves someone or something so much, he will do anything to keep that feeling growing.
“You know how this is
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little sail boats
towards those isles of yours that wait for me”
The second stanza explains how he feels about Chile, and it is in the first line “You know how this is” that he makes it clear that the situation will surely be understood.
Neruda is explaining that whether he lives in peace or in danger, whenever he is abroad he is always thinking of his homeland of Chile. Neruda lived in Spain during the time of the civil war; he adopted an active role and suffered as a result. “I want you to
know one thing”
This in itself indicates that whatever it is that he wants to be known, it carries importance. Like most of Pablo Neruda’s poems “If You Forget Me” has been translated from the Spanish. It was originally titled “Si Tu Me Olvidas”. This poem is frequently thought to be a love poem dedicated to his wife Matilde Urrutia. This is a mistake, in fact this one is about Neruda’s exile from his native country of Chile. “Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little”
The words ‘little by little’ indicate that the longer he must endure such hostility the less is his affection for his country.
you forget me
do not look for me
for I shall already have forgotten you”
It appears as if he desired for the whole sorry affair to be overlooked. It is as if he is saying that were his imminent arrest to be withdrawn then he would agree to live a peaceful life. Although this was never in Neruda’s character, he was a fighter. He was most likely dreaming that it could be this way. This stanza seems to describe wishful thinking. It is in the fifth stanza that Neruda speaks of his exile:
“If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land”
He is saying that he has been given no option but to leave his homeland. Neruda managed to escape from Chile in 1949, he mostly lived in Europe for the following three years. This stanza is explaining that his country has become such that all love is lost, it has become dangerous, he is no longer appreciated, and the hostility towards him is so great that he can no longer remain. He is explaining that although his roots are in Chile, they were planted in the old Chile. Neruda later returned to Chile, and the reasons are emphasized in the lines of the final stanza:
if each day,
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 returned to Chile in 1952 and it was in this year that this poem was written. He remained living in his beloved homeland for the rest of his life. Thank you