Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada A PUPIL`S

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Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada A PUPIL`S
Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada
The disparity of what is seemingly simple – such as commitment and relationships – and the
true complexity of the matters is explored in this poem. Although the woman’s absence,
both physically and emotionally, is celebrated throughout the poem in repeated line “me
gustas cuando callas porque estas como ausente” and is said to fuel the poet’s creativity, his
obsession with her persists. Indeed, although physically Neruda desires the woman, his
preference of silent interaction further woman’s subordinate role throughout the anthology
and Neruda’s patronising nature.
The poem begins with the poet placing an emphasis on him through the “me” emphatically
placed at the beginning of the line, claiming that he prefers the woman to be silent as this is
when he is most creative. This is a theme which recurs throughout the anthology as in
poem 20 he argues that “puedo escribir los versos mas tristes esta noche” due to her
absence and in poem 8 where the repetition of “Ah silenciosa!” inspires him. Thus, silence
and absence are celebrated, insinuating that the poet is either interested in her silence of
her physical presence for his fulfilment. Similarly a yearning for someone to drive him
creatively is demonstrated and, by linking his creativity with the woman, a great importance
is attributed to her as she is something vital to him. The poet describes the woman as out of
his reach – her distance from him means that “mi voz no te toca”, further demonstrating his
isolation. The physical subordination of the woman is also clearly visible in the first stanza
through the use of the forceful “cerrara la boca”. However, the use of the words
“tocar...beso...boca” reminds us of his yearning for physical contact and that whilst he enjoys
the creativity that the absence of the woman inspires, he is constantly thinking of her
physical nature.
The second stanza further emphasises the possessive nature of the poet’s relationship with
the woman through the progression of “llenas de mi alma” in the first line to “llena del alma
mia” in the second line which is more possessive, whilst the anaphora of “mi...mia...mi”
additionally highlights the fact that the emphasis of the poems is on him. The use of the
“mariposa” imagery for the woman is particularly symbolic of their relationship as butterflies
are beautiful yet ephemeral and have the freedom to leave him. As such, the emphatic use of
“melancolia” at the end of the stanza reminds us of the sadness and desperation that
underlies much of the anthology and undermines the initial celebration of her silence.
The first line of the third stanza is the same as that of stanza one however “ausente” is
substituted by “distante” evoking the sense that through time, as the poem progresses, and
however he looks at it - he is away from the woman. Furthermore, whilst distante alludes
to physical distance, ausente links in with the “ojos de ausencia” of poem I and thus implies
an emotional distance meaning that even when they are physically together, they are not
emotionally connected. A similar tautology is present in line 3 of stanza 3 whereby the line
is a repetition of line 2 of the first stanza with “alcanza” replacing “toca”, emphasising the
sense that from all perspectives she is distant from him. In this stanza, the imagery of
“mariposa” is repeated, however it is more emphatic as the butterfly is described as “en
arrullo” which evokes a romantic atmosphere as the verb “arrullar” is associated with the
cooing of doves, the archetypal lovebirds. However, “arrullo” also means lullaby, reminding
us that he treats the woman like a child in terms of her having no say and him patronising
The woman’s silence continues to be celebrated in stanza 4, where it is described to be
“simple como un anillo”. Through the link of the image of the ring (which has a simple
circular shape) to commitment, unity and relationships, Neruda suggests that these, too, are
simple. His relationship with the woman throughout the anthology is summarised
particularly well in the comparison of her with “la noche, callada y constelada” where
“constelada” refers to her distance from him and “callada” to her silence. Similarly to the
line “hembra distante y mia” in poem 7, the woman is described to be far from him by the
comparison with the star in the last line of the stanza which is “tan lejos”. Yet, although
Neruda again describes her silence as “claro” and “sencillo”, the comparison to the star
reminds us that the star is the most complex form of matter known to man, allowing us to
infer that whilst he says relationships seem easy they are in fact very complex. The link of
the woman to the star further suggests that whilst one can look at the woman, she
The author concludes the poem in a cyclical nature, represented by the circular anillo in the
previous stanza, as the lines of the first and last stanza are the same, showing that he
remains transfixed by the woman and hasn’t achieved progression of thought. His conflicting
emotion towards the woman is further evident as he describes her as “dolorosa”, putting
her in a negative light in contrast with her comparison to the beautiful mariposa. Moreover,
the alliteration of d’s in “distante y dolorosa” introduces as harsher note which builds up to
the shocking “muerto”. Here we can see that he derives a degree of pleasure from her
death as it fuels his creativity by introducing him to another dimension of feeling and grief
and thus that, despite the image of the ring symbolising unity and eternity, these sentiments
aren’t entirely genuine. The use of “una palabra” further emphasises the contrast between
the simplicity which he associates with the woman and the pain that she nonetheless causes
him. It also highlights the subordinate nature of the woman as, when she finally speaks, she is
only allowed one word and we do not hear it.
The tight quatrain structure of the poem adds to the cyclical sense of Neruda’s thoughts as
he keeps on going back to where he started in a structured pattern. Furthermore, the
constant repetition of “y” throughout the stanzas adds to the sense of this being an ongoing
continuous thought. The sense of continuity of his thoughts is also underlined by the rhyme
pattern which sees the second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyme. However, the fact that
the first and third lines do not shows that his thoughts are not perfectly continuous, evoking
the idea that as long as the woman is absent he is not fully fulfilled and the poem cannot be
completely rhyming.
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