The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was one of the premier South American poets of the twentieth century, and has come to be recognized as one of the most famous Spanish-speaking poets of all time. “Love Sonnet 17” is part of Neruda’s collection of 100 Love Sonnets, published in 1960 as Cien sonetos de amor. Neruda divided the book into four parts, Morning (Mañana), Afternoon (Mediodía), Evening (Tarde), and Night (Noche), and number 17 found its way into Morning. I chose to learn this poem as part of my 32 Things as I have always loved it and found it incredibly beautiful.
Love Sonnet XVII
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way than this:
“Where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep. ”