Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda : Evocative and Passionate

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Have you ever read a poem that makes your heart soar with joy, and then punches you in the gut? That’s the power of Pablo Neruda’s “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair.” This collection was written when Neruda was just starting as a writer and it took the world by storm and remains a hot favorite even today. So without much delay let’s dive into what makes these poems so special to me and the world.

Confession – I read poetry quite sparingly. Reading poetry is like lying on green grass with bare feet and gazing at the sky with clouds drifting by… in short a leisurely indulgence. When Blogchatter gave this monthly prompt, this was the first book that came to my mind, and I just had to talk about this work of passion. I received it as a gift from someone special but you can get your copy HERE

Neruda: The Poet and His Passions

Pablo Neruda, lesser known as  Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto; was born in Chile in 1904. Neruda was surrounded by both poetry and political turmoil. This fiery mix fueled his writing, and “Twenty Love Poems … ” is a prime example of this. Written when Neruda was in his early twenties, it captures the intensity of young love and erotica with much derived from his personal life, with all its ups and downs.

Neruda received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971 and is regarded as the greatest Latin American poet to date.

Twenty love poems and a song of despair by Pablo Neruda

About ‘Twenty Love poems and a song of Despair’

Originally written in Spanish as “Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada”  and published in 1924 this was masterfully translated to English by W.S.Merwin, maintaining the soul of the poems in the translated work. Even after 100 years of its publication, this book still remains the top selling poetry book in Spanish and recognised as one of his best works for its raw sensuality.

Age recommendation

Amazon says 10 years but given the erotic content and adult theme I would say – 16 years+ is a more appropriate age to appreciate it.

Twenty love poems and a song of despair by Pablo Neruda

Beyond ‘Roses are Red’: A Different Kind of Love Poem

 Neruda doesn’t just say “I love you.” He uses evocative language and powerful imagery to paint a picture of emotions, from the heady joy of new love to the crushing weight of heartbreak. He’s honest, sometimes even brutal, making his poems feel real and relatable.

Love and Nature: A Match Made in Poetry Heaven

One of Neruda’s special talents is weaving nature into his love poems. He compares the emotions of love to the beauty and sometimes harshness of the natural world.

Consider the lines  “the night is shattered, and the stars are bleeding… ” This imagery makes us truly understand the depth of his feelings.The poem “Tonight I Can Write” expresses the speaker’s thoughts of melancholy and longing by describing the night sky as “starry and shivering.”

To some it may feel that Pablo tends to objectify women but upon deeper consideration one realises that women are portrayed as objects of beauty and desire in certain poems, but they are also strong, independent people in others.Pablo confesses to being overpowered by their beauty and his passion makes him helpless.Let us also not forget that these are the feelings of a Pablo Neruda who still was in his teens when he penned the poems.

Twenty love poems and a song of despair by Pablo Neruda

From Joy to Despair: The Final Note

The collection ends on a deeply moving note. The last poem, “The Song of Despair,” takes a dramatic turn, plunging us into the darkness of lost love. It’s a powerful contrast to the earlier poems, reminding us that love can have both happy and tragic endings.The sense of loss is palpable like a lost soul’s cry of despair.

Why This Collection Still Matters

“Twenty Love Poems” isn’t just about a 19 year old Neruda’s genius or personal experiences; it’s about the universal experience of love and loss. We can all relate to the joy, the heartache, and the way nature reflects our emotions. These poems are like emotional rollercoasters, taking us through the full spectrum of human experience. It lacks the soulfulness of mature love that grows with time , instead it reverberates with longing, intense desire and unrequited passion – throbbing with raw emotional appeal.

So, next time you’re looking for a poem that’s both beautiful and raw and brimming with passion, pick up “Twenty Love Poems and a song of despair.” Be prepared to be swept away by the power of Neruda’s words.

[This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Mads’ Cookhouse.]

(“I’m participating in the #TBRChallenge by Blogchatter)

Visit my Goodreads profile to check out my ratings and reviews of many other books.

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