Here I Love You by Pablo Neruda explores long distance lovers, with Neruda undulating between love and fearing losing her. The poem explores heartbreak, love and uses natural imagery throughout.
Here I Love You by Pablo Neruda compounds a sense of longing, Neruda is far away from his lover and trying to keep their love ablaze despite the distance. Although he cannot speak to her or see her, he tries to send out messages through nature and over the sea in order to ensure she knows that he is thinking of her. The poem moves from hope and love to sadness, Neruda believing that she is slowly forgetting about him. The poem comes from Neruda’s ’20 poemas de amor y una canción desesperada’ – twenty love poems and a song of despair.
You can read the full poem here.
Pablo Neruda splits Here I Love You into 6 stanzas of uneven lengths. The stanzas range from three-six lines, with no rhyme scheme. The poem is originally written in Spanish, but the Spanish version similarly has no rhyme scheme, with the translator being incredibly faithful in translation. The changing stanza length could reflect the changing emotions present in the poem, with Neruda moving from sorrow to happiness and back again.
A technique that Neruda uses frequently within Here I Love You is the employment of natural imagery. These images span from ‘sea’ to ‘dark pines’, ‘moon glows’, encompassing a wide range of natural images and different ideas. By employing semantics which fall into the natural category, Neruda is linking his love poem to something natural and beautiful, therefore suggesting that the love he has for this woman is similar. Although they cannot be together, in sharing the beauty of natural images, Neruda feels that he can link the two lovers, both experiencing nature, although in different places.
Other techniques that Neruda employs are mixing enjambment and end stops. In doing this, Neruda builds speed within his verse, and then quickly stops it. This changing velocity of poem reflects the structural idea of changing emotions, as well as helps Neruda to emphasise different moments within each stanza.
Here I Love You Analysis
The first line of this stanza clearly states the intention of the poem, it is going to discuss Neruda’s love, and positions him ‘here’, which becomes important as we continue through the poem. The use of completely monosyllabic words within this first sentence make the idea clear and easy to decipher, Neruda is not playing any linguistic games, instead wanting to make his love obvious and palpable.
Throughout the other three lines of the first stanza, Neruda employs the first natural images that we encounter in Here I Love You. The ‘dark pines’ have an element of mystery to them, and also a sense of impending melancholy, the use of ‘dark’ being related to something unseen and potentially upsetting.
Yet, to balance this ominous image, Neruda describes the ‘moon glows like phosphorous’, the shimmering light on the ‘waters’ directly combating the darkness of the second line. The poem is incredibly thought out in regards to imagery, the harmonious blend of light and dark through natural imagery being incredibly beautiful to read. This beauty can be related to the theme of the poem, love and beauty often going hand in hand within poetry.
The natural imagery continues, ‘the snow unfurls in dancing figures’, the personification of ‘snow’ lending a sense of magic to Here I Love You. There is something incredible happening, Neruda is trying to send a message to his lover, using the beauty of nature as a mechanism of transport. Although separated, they can observe nature together.
The double repetition of ‘high’ within ‘high, high stars’, combined with the divisive caesura compounds a sense of distance. Neruda is a long way away from his lover. She is often connected, especially later in the poem, to the ‘stars’, and here the ‘high’ distance, emphasised through repetition, is suggesting that she is beyond touch, way out of his reach and far away.
This sense of solitude is compounded in the final line of the second stanza, the single word ‘alone’ defining his state eloquently. Moreover, the harsh end stop following this single word further elevates Neruda’s sense of loneliness.
The melancholic atmosphere of Here I Love You is continued in this stanza, the shortest stanza in the whole poem being attributed to images of solitude. Upon waking up alone, ‘even my soul is wet’, the total sense of being immersed in sadness taking over Neruda’s soul. He is total alone, wishing he was with his lover.
The sense of distance is repeated here, ‘far away’, with the barrier of ‘the sea’ becoming an image of how incredibly separated the two lovers are. The repeating echo of the lapping ways, ‘sounds and resounds’, conveying a sense of everlasting sea separating them.
Neruda reassures himself, the double repetition of ‘Here I love you’ emphasising his deep devotion. Although the ‘horizon hides you’, the distance being great, Neruda is completely devoted to his lover, wanting her to know that he loves her, and will keep loving her.
This sense of total devotion is captured in one of the most famous lines of Here I Love You, ‘I love you still among these cold things.’. Neruda’s ‘here’ is somewhere ‘cold’, unfamiliar and depressing, ‘cold’ representing his sense of sorrow. Yet, he will keep loving her, even ‘among these cold things’, it is something he has committed to and will not pull away from.
A slight change occurs in this stanza, Neruda moving back to a more uncertain and worried voice. He is afraid that his ‘kisses’ that cross the ‘sea towards no arrival’, not sure that she understands that he is still thinking of her and loving her. He worries that he is being forgotten by his lover, ‘like those old anchors’, rusted and left in a ‘port’ forever – a memory of the past.
The fears eat away at Neruda, ‘my life grows tired, hungry to no purpose’, the melancholy becoming a primary force of the poem. He understands that ‘I love what I do not have’, being geographically separated from his lover and unable to communicate with her.
This sense of desperation is elevated by the repeated idea on the same line, ‘you are so far’, the distancing being too much for Neruda, afraid of fading into a past memory.
Yet, the final two lines of the fifth stanza ‘wrestles’ back Neruda’s mindset into something more positive. He understands that they are far, but in the ‘night’ they will both be experiencing the same ‘stars’ together, having a link despite the distance. ‘Night’ becomes an image of happiness, it ‘comes and starts to sing’ to the poet.
Neruda gains faith again, using natural imagery that reflects the first stanza to emphasise the regaining of his certainty. Although he cannot be with his lover, through memory and nature, he will ‘sing your name’, remaining loving despite the circumstances.
The final line combines the idea that Neruda will keep loving her with images of nature, both coming together in a harmonious moment in which seemingly both poet and ‘leaves’ ‘sing your name’, the pines and the stars aligning to support the separated lovers in their devotion.