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5 Most Famous Poems by Pablo Neruda

Marina is a writer, poet, and motivator. From an early age, she was fond of writing. Pablo Neruda has always been her idol.

Neruda recording his poetry at the U.S. Library of Congress in 1966.

Neruda recording his poetry at the U.S. Library of Congress in 1966.

Do you enjoy reading poetry? If you are an emotional person, Neruda’s poetry is the right choice for you. These are the five most famous poems by Pablo Neruda. They will make you cry, but they will also make you feel alive. While most of these poems are love poems, there's a lot of hidden meaning in these lines. Neruda's love poems are tender, melancholic, passionate, and breathtaking. He truly is one of the best poets of his generation. So, let's take a look at these marvelous poems!

Pablo Neruda's 5 Most Famous Poems

  1. "Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines"
  2. "Don’t Be Far Off"
  3. "When I Die"
  4. "Die Slowly"
  5. "Here I Love You"

The books that help you most are those which make you think that most. The hardest way of learning is that of easy reading; but a great book that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and beauty.

— Pablo Neruda

1. "Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines"

Appeared in: Veinte Poemas de Amor y una Cancion Desesperada

Year Published: 1924

My Analysis of the Poem

In this poem, the speaker's feelings of loneliness lead to immense sadness. The opening line instantly establishes the mood of this poem. It establishes the incredible sense of loss the speaker feels early in the poem. This line repeats two more times in poem, giving it the feel of a terrible epiphany. In this poem, the sorrow does not diminish, but intensifies as you read.

The recurring images of night can present internal darkness, sadness, and lost romance. At night we think about something that tortures us, as if tossing and turning in bed, unable to be comfortable, unable to sleep. In short, this is a breakup poem, so perhaps night represents the emptiness he feels after she left.

The loneliness of night is immense without her. He couldn’t keep her. She has gone, but he still can’t accept it. It is hard to forget someone you love. You feel like your lover is still with you. You remember everything you passed through together. The poet wants to forget her, and he is trying to convince himself he doesn’t love her anymore, but he clearly does.

The theme of Pablo Neruda's poem “Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines” is the finality of lost love. The speaker is so upset that he starts to ask himself if they ever truly loved each other or if it was all a figment of his imagination. In short, he discovers how sometimes she loved him and other times he loved her, but that his love was not enough for her to stay with him. While he might not write about his lover anymore, it doesn’t mean he will forget her.

"Love is so short, forgetting is so long."

— Pablo Neruda

5-most-famous-poems-by-pablo-neruda

2. "Don’t Be Far Off"

Appeared in: Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Year Published: 1979

My Analysis of the Poem

This is another of Neruda's great love poems. In this poem, the speaker simply can’t live without his lover—not even for a day! One day without someone you love can still be devastating.

Structurally, "Don’t Go Far Off," by Pablo Neruda, is a four stanza poem. It is separated into two sets of three lines, or tercets, and two sets of four lines, or quatrains. Neruda’s text does not follow a specific pattern of rhyme or rhythm. A reader will notice though that there is a similarity in the line lengths. Generally, the entire piece is structured with lines that are about nine to ten words long. This consistency give it its rhythm and lyrical flow.

In an effort to make the speaker’s feelings clearer, Neruda utilizes the metaphor of an “empty station,” where the trains wait quietly for the morning (when the passengers will return). This is when they will come to life, just as Neruda will come back to life if his love were to return.

In this poem, Neruda uses gradation to describe his feelings, saying, "Don't go far off, not even for a day,/Don't leave me, even for an hour,/Don't leave me for a second." His pleas continue throughout the poem, becoming more and more desperate. By the end of the poem he informs us that he would wander the entire earth seeking his love if they were ever separated.

While I'm writing, I'm far away; and when I come back, I've gone.

— Pablo Neruda

3. "When I Die I Want Your Hands on My Eyes"

Appeared in: Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Year Published: 1979

My Analysis of the Poem

"When I Die" is an incredibly emotional love poem. In this poem, the speaker talks about wanting his spouse to remember him after he passes, but he doesn’t want her to mourn his loss so much that she doesn’t continue living her life. Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet who lived from 1904-1973, and his first wife did not speak his native language of Spanish. This poem is made up of quatrains (four-line poems) and tercets (three-line poems).

The poet wants his lover to remember him after his death. His last wish is to feel her hands one more time. She was the reason for his happiness. He wants her to go on living after his death because he loves her very much.

For me writing is like breathing. I could not live without breathing and I could not live without writing.

— Pablo Neruda

4. "Die Slowly"

Appeared in: Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Year Published: 1979

My Analysis of the Poem

In this inspirational poem, Neruda writes about the importance of living a full life. What we can learn from the poem? Neruda suggests that we all should follow our dreams. We should take risks and change our bad habits.

In short, this is a poem about personal change. This poem reminds us that we can easily become slaves to certain attitudes and habits. It reminds us that freedom comes from self-reflection!

As long as we are stuck in our comfort zone, we are not growing. If you want to live a full life, you should be more open to the new experiences. Someone who is not capable of taking a risk and changing their routines "dies slowly". A life that is stuck in a comfort zone is not a full life. Neruda advises us to never forget that we only live once.

We must be better tomorrow than we are today. Self-growth should never stop. It is never too late to be better and happier. It is never too late to start living life with purpose. What are you waiting for? Change yourself. Change your life. Don't waste your time. We cannot have our time back, so don't waste it!

"Being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing."

— Pablo Neruda

5. "Here I Love You"

Appeared in: Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

Year Published: 1924

My Analysis of the Poem

Neruda imagines kissing her lover, but she is not there. She is far away in another world. He passionately recalls the sweet moments he spent in her company.

This time our poet speaks to his departed beloved. She has gone "there" while he remains "here". The sadness that echoes through the line Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet is richly melancholic. He sends her his messages of love, but waits for the reply that never comes Now, he is traveling alone. He feels like he is alone in the world. His life has no purpose without her. It's so very sad.

Writing poetry, we live among the wild beasts, and when we touch a man, the stuff of someone in whom we believed, and he goes to pieces like a rotten pie, you... gather together whatever can be salvaged, while I cup my hands around the live coal of life.

— Pablo Neruda

More Famous Poems by Pablo Neruda

TitleCollectionYear Published

"Ode to Tomatoes"

"Odas Elementales" (Elementary Odes)

1954

"Sonnet LXVI: I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You"

"Cien Sonetos de Amor" (100 Love Sonnets)

1959

"Your Laughter"

"Los Versos del Capitán" (The Captain’s Verses)

1952

"Ode to My Socks"

"Neuvas Odas Elementales" (New Elementary Odes)

1955

"Walking Around"

"Residencia en la Tierra" (Residence on Earth)

1935

"Poem XV: I Like for You to Be Still"

"Veinte Poemas de Amor y una Canción Desesperada" (Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair)

1924

"If You Forget Me"

"Los Versos Del Capitán" (The Captain’s Verses)

1952

Who Was Pablo Neruda?

Ricardo Reyes Basoalto was born in a small town in central Chile in 1904. He died of leukemia in Santiago in 1973. He was known as Pablo Neruda, which was his pen name. As we all know, he was a famous Chilean poet and politician.

He started to write poetry when he was only ten years old. His father didn’t approve his literary ambitions, but luckily, he met the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral who encouraged his writing talent.

His writing started appearing in the magazines in the early 20th century. In 1920, he published poems in the magazine Selva Austral, using his pen name because he didn't want to argue with his father.

When he was 19 years old, his poetry collection Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair made him famous. He succeeded and sold over millions of this collection.

Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. The novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez once called him "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language."

Neruda was one of the most famous poets of his generation, and, amazingly, each of his books has its own unique style.

Timeline of Pablo Neruda's Life

YearEvent

1904

Neftali Ricardo Basoalto (Pablo Neruda) is born July 12th in Parral, Chile.

1917

Neruda publishes his first article in the newspaper "La Mañana".

1918

The magazine "Corre-Vuela"publishes Neruda's poem entitled "Mis Ojos".

1920

Officially adopts the pseudonym "Pablo Neruda".

1921

Travels to Santiago to continue with his career as a French teacher in the Pedagogic Institute.

1922

Colaborates with the magazine "Claridad" organized by the Federation of Students.

1924

Original version of " Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada" is published by Nascimiento editorial.

1927

He is named consul in Birmania.

1934

Consul in Barcelona. His daughter Malva Marina is born. He is introduced to Federico Garcia Lorca.

1944

Obtains the Municipal Award in Poetry.

1945

Appointed Senator of the Republic by the provinces of Tarapaca and Antofagasta. Obtains the National Award in Literature in Chile.

1946

Condecorated by the Mexican government with the "Orden Aguila Azteca".

1949

Goes into exile.

1952

Moves to Italy.

1953

Organizes the Continental Congress of Culture.

1971

Wins the Nobel Prize in Literature.

1972

Ambassador in Paris.

1973

Resigns to his charge in the embassy in Paris.

1973

He dies on September 23rd in the Santa Maria Clinic, Santiago de Chile.

What Is He Best Known for?

While Pablo Neruda is best known for being a talented poet, but he was also famous because he stirred controversy with his affiliation with the Communist Party and his outspoken support of Joseph Stalin, Fulgencio Batista, and Fidel Castro. Even though much of the Western world was weary about his poloitics, his poetic mastery was never in doubt. In fact, he was even awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.

Why Did He Win the Nobel Prize?

In 1971, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Pablo Neruda "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams."

Where Did He Grow Up?

Pablo Neruda was born Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto on July 12th, 1904, in Parral, Chile. Parral is a city in Linares Province that is now part of the greater Maule Region. His parents were José del Carmen Reyes Morales, a railway employee, and Rosa Basoalto, a schoolteacher who died two months after he was born.

Famous Books by Pablo Neruda

Book TitleYear Published

"Book of Twilight"

1923

"Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair"

1924

"Alturas de Macchu Picchu"

1945

"Canto General"

1950

"Los Versos del Capitán"

1952

"Odes to Common Things"

1954

"Cien Sonetos de Amor"

1959

"The Book of Questions"

1974

Why Was Neruda Exiled?

After being named Chilean Consul to Mexico in 1939, Neruda left Chile for four years. Upon returning to Chile in 1943, he was elected to the Senate and joined the Communist Party. When the Chilean government moved to the right, they declared communism illegal and expelled Neruda from the Senate. After this political shift, Neruda went into hiding.

Did He Write in English?

Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet who wrote in Spanish. That said, many of his poems have been translated into english. In fact, his poetry is so famous that it has been translated into over 100 languages.

Where Is Neruda Buried?

Pablo Neruda's burial was widely publicized and was nationally known. Today, Pablo Neruda is buried at Casa de Isla Negra, Isla Negra, Chile.

Why Was He Important?

Pablo Neruda was a famous Chilean poet and politician. He was a Communist and was forced to leave Chile temporarily due to his political ideology. Eventually, Neruda won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971. Neruda gained National and even global fame due to his love poems and his political writing.

Other Great Latino Poets

NameOrigin

Gabriela Mistral

Chile

Alfonsina Storni

Argentina

Norah Lange

Argentina

Julia de Burgos

Puerto Rico

Excilia Saldaña

Cuba

Jimmy Santiago Baca

Apache and Chicano, U.S.A.

Carmen Boullosa

Mexico

Octavio Paz

Mexico

Rosario Castellanos

Mexico

Was Pablo Neruda Murdered?

Recently, scientists discovered that the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda did not die of cancer, but whether or not he was murdered is still unknown.

As a former diplomat and senator from the Communist Party, Neruda had plenty of enemies. Neruda died at age 69 on Sept. 23, 1973, just two weeks after a military coup toppled the leftist government of Salvador Allende. While cancer was reported as the cause of his death, many speculate that he may have been murdered.

In 2011, Neruda's former driver, Manuel Araya, asserted in an interview that doctors at the private clinic in Santiago (where Neruda was being treated) poisoned him by injecting an unknown substance into his stomach. While Mr. Araya did not personally witness the injection, he said that Neruda described it to him from his deathbed.

In 2013, Judge Mario Carroza ordered the exhumation of Neruda’s remains and sent samples to forensic genetics laboratories in Canada and Denmark for scientific analysis. While Neruda’s death certificate states the cause of death as cancer, but forensic specialists unanimously found that to be impossible. The certificate stated that Neruda's death was the result of cachexia (brought on by cancer), meaning that his death was at least partially the result of weight loss, muscle loss, a lack of appetite, fatigue, and decreased strength.

However, according to the University of Copenhagen’s department of forensic medicine, “There was no indication of cachexia. He was an obese man at the time of his death. All other circumstances in his last phase of life pointed to some kind of infection.” Whether or not this infection was deliberately given to him or obtained accidentally is still up for debate.

Who Was Pablo Neruda Influenced By?

NameBio

Federico García Lorca

Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca, known as Federico García Lorca, was a Spanish poet, playwright, and theatre director.

Jan Neruda

Jan Nepomuk Neruda was a Czech journalist, writer, poet and art critic; one of the most prominent representatives of Czech Realism and a member of the "May School".

Alexander Pushkin

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin was a Russian poet, playwright, and novelist of the Romantic era who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. Pushkin was born into Russian nobility in Moscow.

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore FRAS, and also known by his sobriquets Gurudev, Kabiguru, and Biswakabi, was a polymath, poet, musician, and artist from the Indian subcontinent. He reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse.

Sources

Comments

Aman Singh Bhadoriya on May 24, 2020:

Good job

And so nice poem

Thanks

Joe West on November 08, 2019:

Neruda and Nicanor Parra are two great poets. They are fantastic because they are opposing forces.

Joy Parackal on August 25, 2019:

I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees. ...

lover67 on August 22, 2019:

very inspirational

Abdul jabbar on June 24, 2019:

Nice

DIANNE B on May 16, 2019:

A great site. Thank you!

Soharhan@gmail.com on May 13, 2019:

Love writings of neruda.

Trisha Das on February 08, 2019:

Lovely

Jeremiah jones on January 25, 2019:

Nice

V.Subramanian on January 09, 2019:

Very fine

Matt on June 02, 2018:

"Die Slowly" is not written by Neruda; it's a fake; as a quick Google will ascertain.

GG on April 10, 2018:

ghjgh

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