9 of the Best Pablo Neruda Love Poems

On this list, lovers of poetry will find nine of the best love poems ever written, and they all stemmed from the hand of Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda.

He won the Nobel Prize and the Golden Wreath Award. In the seventies, the poet served as a diplomat and met an end (perhaps murdered by poisoning) that fits in with the sorrow and passion of Pablo Neruda’s love poems. 

9 of the Best Pablo Neruda Love Poems

 

If You Forget Me

‘If You Forget Me’ is a beautiful and heartbreaking poem in which the speaker warns his lover of what’s going to happen if she falls out of love with him. He tells her that if she stops loving him that he’s going to do the same. But, if she loves him forever, he will commit to that as well. 

But if each day, each hour you feel
that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness
if each day a flower climbs up to your lips to seek me

 

I Do Not Love You

‘I Do Not Love You,’ also known as Sonnet 17,’  is certainly one of Pablo Neruda’s best-known and widely loved poems. In this piece, his speaker states that his lover should either commit to loving him for the rest of time or move on. It’s a beautiful poem that uses darkness as one of its primary images. The poem is more mysterious than one might initially expect. 

But if each day, each hour you feel
that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness
if each day a flower climbs up to your lips to seek me

 

And Because Love Battles 

‘And Because Love Battles’ is not quite as widely known as some poems on this list, but it’s still quite beautiful and important. The speaker describes his lover in this piece, defending her in front of the world and those who would seek to speak poorly of her. He tells anyone listening that he loves her exactly as she is and he wouldn’t do anything to change her. 

Tomorrow we will only give them
a leaf of the tree of our love, a leaf
which will fall on the earth
like if it had been made by our lips

 

Tonight I Can Write

Tonight I Can Write,’ like the other poems on this list, is emotional. It depicts the speaker’s loneliness and his hopes. It’s easy, the speaker opens, for him to write terribly sad poetry. He’s easily able to access that part of his mind. That sadness is connected to his worry in regard to a relationship that he’s a part of. There is a part of him that’s concerned that it won’t turn out as he hopes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write for example, “The night is shattered

and the blue stars shiver in the distance.”

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

 

Don’t Go Far Off

In this four-stanza poem, the speaker pleas with his lover not to abandon him to live out the rest of his life alone. He asks her not to “go far off” from where he is as his life would not be worth living without her. He would shut down, he adds, like a train at night without a purpose. In fact, he concludes, if she does leave him, he’ll likely wander the earth looking for her for the rest of time. 

Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.

 

Love Sonnet XI

‘Love Sonnet XI’ is one of Pablo Neruda’s most sensual sonnets. His speaker talks openly about all the features his lover displays that he’s longing to touch and see. He expresses a desire to consume his lover, metaphorically, of course. The most powerful image in this text is that of the speaker’s hunger. He uses a metaphor to compare it to a prowling puma, stalking that which it desires. 

Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.

 

I Like for You to be Still

In ‘I Like for You to be Still,’ the speaker describes what it’s like to watch his lover while she’s still and seemingly distant. She’s melancholy, far away, as though her eyes “had flown away.” She’s “absent” and “full of sorrow.” The still leads him to think of death and the joy that he experiences when she smiles and it’s revealed that she’s not dead, she’s still there with him.

I like for you to be still:

it is as though you were absent,

and you hear me from far away

and my voice does not touch you.

 

Every Day You Play

In this piece, Pablo Neruda’s speaker compares his love to a light that fuels and crosses the universe. It’s his determination, he says at the end of the poem, that he loves this person until he knows she owns everything in existence. He speaks about how much his life has improved due to their relationship and to repay her he’s going to be there for her and nurture her until she blooms like a cherry tree. 

My words rained over you, stroking you
A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of you body
Until I even believe that you own the universe
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains,

 

You are the daughter of the sea

In ‘You are the daughter of the sea,’ the speaker describes his lover as “oregano’s first cousin” and as having a body “pure as the water.” This person is continually compared to elements of the earth. From flowers to the soil, the waves, and the clay. This poem is similar to the previous on this list in that the poet’s speaker compares his lover to natural forces and suggests that she is embodied in everything. 

And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms
that push back the shadows so that you can rest
vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.

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About
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
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