5 Most Famous Poems by Pablo Neruda

Updated on February 6, 2018
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I am a professor of Serbian language and literature. From early ages, I was fond of writing. My favorite poet is Pablo Neruda.

Do you like reading the poems? If you are an emotional person, Neruda’s poetry is the right choice for you. These 5 most famous poems by Pablo Neruda will make you cry. Four of them are love poems.

Who Was Pablo Neruda?

Ricardo Reyes Basoalto was born in a small town in central Chile in 1904. He died of leukemia in Santiago on 23 September 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. When Neruda was twelve, he met the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral. She encouraged his literary efforts.

His literary works appeared in the magazines. In 1920 he published poems in the magazine Selva Austral, using his pen name to avoid conflict with his father. When he was 19 years old, his poetry collection “Twenty Love Poems” and “A Song of Despair” made him a household name in Latin America. Over the decades, this collection sold millions of copies.

This collection of love poems was controversial for its eroticism because Neruda was a very young author. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. The novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez once called Neruda "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language."

During his long literary career, Neruda wrote in a variety of styles:

  • Surrealist poems
  • Historical epics
  • Overtly political manifestos
  • A prose autobiography
  • Passionate love poems

He was the most famous of his poetry. Despite the variety of his output, each of his books have a unity of style and purpose.

5 Most Famous Poems

Neruda's love poetry is tender, melancholy, passionate and breathtaking. Pablo Neruda wrote a lot of beautiful poems, but I have chosen the most famous and the most beautiful of them. Some of them you can dedicate to your special someone.

1. Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines

This is the most famous poem of the most widely read poetry collection in Spanish. As we can see from the title, it is a poem about deep sadness. You must read this wonderful poem.

Night in this poem can present darkness, sadness, emotions, romance. We think about something that tortures us. Our poet thinks of his lover is not with him anymore. They broke up, and a poet feels deep pain. He asks himself whether they loved each other.

That night is immense without her. He couldn’t keep her. She has gone, but he 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. He is trying to convince himself he doesn’t love her anymore.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

These are the last verses which are emotional. The poet isn’t satisfied. Maybe he won’t write about his lover anymore, but it doesn’t mean he will forget her.

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

— Pablo Neruda

2. Don’t Be Far Off

It is one more love poem. Our poet can’t live without his lover not even for a day. One day is so long without her.

If you tried to describe your deepest feelings, you would know how hard it is. As we can see, the poet uses gradation to describe his feelings:

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.

The last verses are a good try of describing feelings. Our poet will die without his lover. His life has no sense without her.

Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,

because in that moment you'll have gone so far
I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?

3. When I Die

"When I Die" is an emotional love poem. As we can see, the poet likes writing about death. When he tries to describe his feelings, he usually mentions dying. We all have a habit to say we will die without someone we love. Are we sincere or we are just trying to describe our feelings? Is this hyperbola?

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

4. Die Slowly

Memorable lines:

He who does not travel, who does not read,
who does not listen to music,
who does not find grace in himself,
she who does not find grace in herself,
dies slowly.

In this poem our poet writes about the importance of living a full life. We all should follow our dreams. We should take a risk and change bad habits. As long as you are stuck in your comfort zone, you are not growing. If you want to live a full life, you should be more open to new experiences. If your growth positively changes you, you’ll know you’re truly living your life. It means being truly alive and awake to life and not asleep in life’s waiting room. Someone who is not capable of taking a risk and changing routines dies slowly. Life stuck in a comfort zone is not a full life, it is just breathing. Don't forget that we live only once.

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

— Pablo Neruda

5. Here I love you

Memorable lines:

Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.
Far away the sea sounds and resounds.
This is a port.

Here I love you.
Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain.
I love you still among these cold things.
Sometimes my kisses go on those heavy vessels
that cross the sea towards no arrival.
I see myself forgotten like those old anchors.

Our poet 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.

Now he is traveling alone. He feels like he is alone in the world. His life has no purpose without her.

Conclusion

If you like these 5 most famous poems by Pablo Neruda, you will also like his other poems. Read them and you might get inspiration for writing.

Which Neruda's poem is the best?

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