Pablo Neruda’s love-lyric ‘And Because Love Battles’ is an emotive piece that explores the power of love. Through this poem, Neruda’s speaker describes how the people around him try to impact his mind negatively. The situation in which he is in can be relatable to others who have truly loved someone.
People always try to tamper with the things of beauty. One such thing is love. So, their attitude towards a person who truly loves a lady seems to them as an odd piece in their pragmatic lives. They try to break one of their hearts in a manner that cannot be fixed in the future. But the speaker, like a warrior, fights to protect his love, without bothering what others say about him or his love.
This long poem presents a speaker who is puzzled by the remarks of society regarding his decision. He loves a lady and has not told her about his feelings. In this critical juncture when he is already struggling with hesitation, others come up with their gall-like suggestions. They think he is making a wrong choice. Their remarks somehow create a situation of battle inside the mind of the speaker.
Whatsoever, in the last few sections of the poem, he becomes courageous. After analyzing his decision for quite a long time, he understands that others are trying to put their failure in love on him. There is no need to worry. They were not successful as they had failed to be honest. In contrast, Neruda’s speaker is honest and confident about his decision. Therefore, in the end, he can firmly say that with their unification he must prove the power of their mutual love.
You can read the full poem here.
The meaning of this poem is not hard enough to decode. It reveals a speaker’s mental battle that he constantly fights for being in a relationship with a woman. He loves her truly but the people around him are adamant to give their bitter suggestions to him. The response he gets from society creates a battle-like situation in his mind.
Through the title, ‘And Because Love Battles’ Neruda points at this mental battle that lovers fight to prove to others that they were right in their decision. Besides, it also refers to continuity. Lovers before Neruda had undergone a similar situation, as the speaker is facing. Those who are yet to enter the battlefield of love are going to face this social pressure anyway.
This poem is not structured in a specific order. It consists of a total of ten stanzas and each of them does not contain a set line count. Some stanzas are short and some are comparably longer. Each section deals with a specific idea but they are all interconnected.
There is not any set rhyme scheme. It is in free verse. Neruda uses several repetitions for creating internal rhyming that keeps the flow of the poem unhindered. The flow of each line is smooth as it contains only a few syllables.
The metrical composition of the text is not regular like the rhyme scheme. Readers can find both the iambic and trochaic meters. On top of that, there are a few metrical variations too. Such a metrical scheme gives it an outlook of a conversational poem.
It is told from the perspective of a first-person lover. For this reason, it is also an example of a lyric poem. Another important thing regarding the form is that the speaker converses with his lover who remains silent throughout the poem or isn’t present in the plot. But, from the tone, it seems the beloved is there. Therefore, it also becomes a specimen of a dramatic monologue.
Neruda uses several literary devices in this piece. In the very first line, he uses personification. The word “love” is also a metaphor for lovers. There is another metaphor in the last line of the first stanza. In this line, “obscure plant” is a metaphorical reference to the negative comments that others pass on true lovers. The quoted phrase is also a symbol of negativity.
Throughout this piece, Neruda uses enjambment for internally connecting the lines. This device also helps for maintaining the line-by-line flow. For example, if readers go through the second stanza, they can find the use of this device that keeps the flow sustained to the last line.
The line, “What more can they tell you?” contains a rhetorical question. Moving on to the fifth stanza, an anaphora can be found in the third and fourth lines. This stanza also contains several repetitions that are meant for the sake of emphasizing the ideas.
There is a simile in the lines, “light as the water/ of the spring upon pure stones.” In the following stanza, readers can find a symbolic reference to food, light, and darkness. The last stanza is quite ironic as here the speaker talks about how they are going to react to others after their successful unification.
And because love battles
not only in its burning agricultures
to those who between my chest and your fragrance
want to interpose their obscure plant.
The translated version of the poem, ‘And Because Love Battles’ does not have a specific title. The very first line is the title itself. So, this line is significant concerning the overall idea of Neruda. For him, the path of love is not a bed of roses. There are several thorns out there. Some obstructions are caused by those who are in touch with the lovers. While some of them originate from the relationship. But, here the poet specifically deals with the external factors.
This point is cleared by the second and third lines. In the line following the first one, there is a metaphor for internal problems that occur in a relationship. Those problems are referred to as “burning agricultures.” In this quoted phrase, “agricultures” stands for love-seed that lovers sow together. Sometimes the field of love catches due to misunderstandings.
Whereas, in some cases, the bitter words of the society spoken against the lovers’ decision sets that metaphorical field on fire. This field is a metaphor for a lover’s mind. The speaker wants to get out of their negative influence.
In the line, “to those who between my chest and your fragrance,” there are two important images. By pointing at his chest, he refers to his heart as well as feelings. While the “fragrance” of the lady is a sensory image that stands for the lady. According to him, society tries to create an invisible boundary inside a lover’s mind by planting their seeds of negativity. This negative influence is symbolically referred to as an “obscure plant.” This bitter plant, comparable to the weeds, hinders the growth of the love plant.
About me, nothing worse
they will tell you, my love,
than what I told you.
The second stanza is short yet it reveals the truthfulness of the speaker. It references the trust factor in a relationship. The lover is true to his lady love and it doesn’t matter what others tell of him to her. What’s more important to them, is what they tell each other. There are not any hidden secrets between them.
According to the speaker, people can say anything about him. To break their relationship, they can reach any limits. But, the point is, they will prove themselves foolish by doing so. The reason is simple. As the speaker has already told his partner everything about him, even the dark phases of his life. That’s why he feels confident enough to say that none can tell worse than what he told her. In this way, Neruda emphasizes the value of mutual understanding and trust in a relationship.
I lived in the prairies
laying in wait for and I jumped on the rose.
The third stanza becomes a bit personal as here the speaker talks about himself. He lived in the prairies. Prairie is a type of grassland with few or no trees. It’s especially the grasslands of North America. So, he is a North American. By reading the first line of this section, it seems he passed his childhood and youth there.
In his native place, he found his love. There he got to know her. They became closer and the relationship developed gradually. But, he does not refer to how their relationship flourishing. Rather he talks about how it began.
According to him, he was in a dormant state, waiting for love. His heart was filled with love. Like the coal waiting to be ignited, his feelings were laying under the oar. At some point, the lady arrived and discovered him. In this way, the feelings that once were buried below came above. Without wasting any time, he quickly set the relationship in motion.
It is important to note that in the last line of this stanza, Neruda uses a beautiful symbol, “rose”. It symbolizes love. On top of that, through this word the speaker metaphorically refers to his partner.
What more can they tell you?
and which with your passion you shared.
In the fourth stanza of ‘And Because Love Battles,’ the speaker uses a rhetorical to begin his argument. According to him, none can tell anything more than what he told his beloved. He is so true to his partner that nothing can replace him from her heart.
Besides, he is simply a human being. He is neither good nor bad. What does this mean? To be specific, this line revolves around the difference between perception and reality. Who is perfect or who is not, cannot ever be justified by the comments of society? It depends on how a person sees one as a human being. Without preconceived notions, everyone is, at the end of the day, a human being.
People try to influence the speaker’s beloved with their negative comments. They think the relationship won’t be fruitful as he is dangerous for his partner. Readers can understand that the speaker may be associated with something unlawful. They can also think about this case from a different perspective. He may be doing something right. But, his attitude opposes the orthodox social norms. For this reason, he is dangerous for those who blindly follow the rules, not for his partner.
According to the speaker, he shared everything that was in his heart. The dangers associated with his life are not new to her. That’s why society cannot influence them. On top of that, they cannot even break their trust.
And good, this danger
is danger of love, of complete love
into double pride, love,
with your pride and my pride.
The sudden increase of line count in this stanza helps readers to understand what’s the “danger” is all about. According to the poetic persona, it’s the “danger of love.” It means when true lovers try to be together without conforming to the social norms, they face several problems. Those problems collectively make the path of love dangerous for the lovers. People are envious of their “complete love.”
In the third and fourth lines, Neruda uses an interesting repetition. Firstly he uses a singular idea, “life”. Thereafter he uses its plural form. The first life is a reference to their lives. While the next word refers to all the lovers except them. In this way, Neruda tries to say that the danger of love not only troubles them but it is also troublesome for others.
Moving to the following lines, readers can find the speaker’s tone is becoming more confident. He is unafraid of accepting any punishments for his love as well as death. Their love is so powerful that nothing can stop them. If he is imprisoned for not conforming to the rules, he is sure that his lover would be proud of his courage. When he kisses her eyes, he can see the “double pride.” With the last few lines, he describes how they take pride in their love.
But to my ears they will come before
to wear down the tour
of the sweet and hard love which binds us,
and what a head she has,
and look at how she dresses,
and etcetera and etcetera”.
After reading the first stanza, it becomes clear that the speaker is angry with what others say about his love. This stanza of ‘And Because Love Battles’ is written in the tone of resistance. It is the lover’s resistance against the negativity of others. According to the speaker, those who are around him always try to break their relationship. They are against such a pure form of love. At times, he feels quite disgusted by the fact that how they are adamant to wear down their sweet and hard-earned love.
People say several bitter things about the speaker’s partner. According to them, the lady he is with is not the ideal lady for him. So there is no reason to be in a relationship with her. On top of that, he can find a far better partner, more beautiful than her, serious, and sincere. They do not even stop here and comment on how she dresses or thinks.
This stanza depicts the mindset of society. Their idea centers on merely the misplaced ideals they follow. If anything differs a bit from their thinking, it becomes bad. The same goes for the lady. That’s why they pass such comments about her. Another thing to mention here that they are also envious of their relationship. So, they may be trying to tamper with their love.
And I in these lines say:
Like this I want you, love,
of the spring upon the pure stones,
Like this I love you, beloved.
This stanza presents a contrast between the speaker’s mindset and that of society. Through the lines, he replies to those who have talked negatively about his beloved. According to him, he loves his beloved as she is. He likes everything she does. That’s why he loves her.
In the following lines, he presents some images to describe the lady’s beauty. He likes the way she dresses. Not only that, but there is a beauty in her smile too. Her hair lifts when she smiles. To describe her smile further, Neruda uses a simile.
Her smile is as light as the spring’s water. By the phrase, “the water of the spring” Neruda associates the coldness of the water as well as its clarity. It presents sensory imagery that helps in understanding the lady’s sweet smile. Along with that, there is a reference to the water falling on “pure stones.” It seems here the poet is metaphorically comparing the lady’s face with the pure stone or he is referring to the speaker’s heart. So, the lady’s smile like the spring-water purifies the lover’s heart.
To bread I do not ask to teach me
but only not to lack during every day of life.
And so you, bread and light
And shadow are.
In this stanza of ‘And Because Love Battles,’ readers can find three important concepts. These are food, light, and darkness. By these references, the speaker highlights the fact that one cannot change how things are. They have to accept reality as it is. One’s expectations cannot change what is destined to happen. Likewise, if the speaker thinks his bread can teach him, he will prove himself foolish. He can only wish that the food won’t be lacking in the future.
He is not sure about where the light comes from or anything else concerning it. He only wants it to light up. Likewise, when night occurs, he cannot wish for light. He must wait until the night envelopes everything around him. Like the things mentioned above, he cannot change his love for the lady won’t change. It will remain as it is now. No matter what others say about them, he will be loving her till the end.
You came to my life
with what you were bringing,
and let them back off today because it is early
for these arguments.
The concepts used in the previous stanza are used here to portray the speaker’s love for his beloved. She came to his life as it was destined to happen. It was not a forced action from both sides. Therefore their love is like the bread, light, and shadow. The nature of light is to lit up everything. In the same manner, the love story would not have started without the lady.
In the following lines, the speaker talks about how he loves her. According to him, she is like a necessity in his life. Without her, he cannot even live. She is like the air he breathes. For this reason, he says he loves her as he needs her badly to live. It is a beautiful way to express his feelings to his beloved.
Those who tried to damage their relationship by negativity, cannot even know how the speaker loves her. He was silent then. And, he is not going to reply. If they want anything to know regarding his feelings, they have to read this poem. Besides, he tells them to back off. As it is too early to argue with them. In this way, the poet uses anticipation for hinting at the future development of the love story.
Tomorrow we will only give them
a leaf of the tree of our love, a leaf
to show the fire and the tenderness
of a true love.
The last stanza of ‘And Because Love Battles’ glorifies the love between the souls true to one another. Neruda uses a beautiful metaphor in this section. He compares love to a tree. Its leaf will fall upon the earth. This leaf will be a specimen of true love to others.
The fourth and fifth lines begin with a similar word. Thus, Neruda is using anaphora here to emphasize his ideas. Besides, these lines also contain simile. First of all, there is a comparison made between the leaf and the lips of the lovers. Then, the falling of the leaf is compared to a kiss falling from their height.
According to the speaker, their love is so pure that it is out of the fringes of the world. They will make their love divine. For this reason, after their death, their souls will reach the “invincible heights.”
In the next line, there is an antithetical idea. At first, the speaker refers to the fire of true love. Thereafter he points at its tenderness. If readers focus on the word “fire”, they can understand that here the poet is referring to the power of love. It is like a fire that can create something. At the same time, it can burn anything to ashes. But, the word “tenderness” negates this aspect. So, here the poet is talking about only the positive aspects of love.
Pablo Neruda’s collection of poems, “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair” (1924) is one of Neruda’s best-known works. He wrote this collection when he was merely 13 years old. This poem, ‘And Because Love Battles’ is a part of this collection. At the time of publication, the collection of poems was controversial for its eroticism, especially considering the young age of the poet. His works were critically acclaimed and have been translated into many languages. Almost, one hundred years have passed. Still, this book is one of the best-selling books of poetry in the Spanish language.
Here is a list of a few poems that are similar to the themes present in Pablo Neruda‘s lyric, ‘And Because Love Battles’.
- In My Craft Or Sullen Art by Dylan Thomas – It’s one of Dylan Thomas’ best-known poems. This poem introduces the image of lovers sharing their grief to outline how the speaker would have one feel. Explore more poetry from Dylan Thomas.
- Quietly by Kenneth Rexroth – This poem describes a moment of complete tranquility, two lovers lying together, and letting the world pass them by. Read more Kenneth Rexroth poems.
- Twice Shy by Seamus Heaney – It’s one of Seamus Heaney’s popular poems. This poem deals with the disillusionment of a young couple who have had unpleasant romantic experiences in their past relationship. Explore more poems by Seamus Heaney.
- You say you love; but with a voice by John Keats – This poem deals with a speaker’s physical passion for his beloved and it’s one of John Keats’ best-loved poems. Read more John Keats poetry.