Are you familiar with the poem of Pablo Neruda, Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines? Just wanna know the elements of this poem.

1 Answer
Jan 6, 2016

Tonight I Can Write (The Saddest Lines), by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, is a melancholic love poem from Neruda's album Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair.

Conceptually, this poem expresses Neruda's longing for his lost love, and the pain he feels in her absence. As he observes the vastness of the night sky, he is reminded of the nights they spent together beneath the same sky, and as he remembers, his pain intensifies.

Throughout, the poem calls attention to itself as a poem (for example, the way that the title acknowledges that the author "Can Write"), and the process of writing acts as a journey for Neruda to lament his loss and move on from it. This is especially evidenced by the last stanza:

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

The notable linguistic elements of this poem are:

  • Repetition
  • Personification
  • Magnification

One example of repetition is the title phrase ("Tonight I can write the saddest lines"), which repeats three times throughout, creating a cadence and circular movement to the poem, almost like a beating drum. This suggests the way the poet is coming back to the same thoughts of his lost love again and again.

The word night(s) repeats nine times throughout the poem, and with each repetition, we learn more about the poet's relationship with his love. The word night almost acts a trigger, sparking imagery that brings his relationship—and his now loneliness—vividly to life for the reader.

An example of personification is in the second stanza:

The night is starry and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.

The stars are given the human quality of being able to shiver, conveying the poet's deep sense of how cold the night is without the human warmth of his love.

The night wind is personified in stanza 3:

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

The word "sings" suggests a movement throughout the sky imbued with feeling, perhaps to juxtapose the emptiness the poet feels in its presence.

An example of magnification is in the line "The same night whitening the same trees," where the poet draws our attention to the sameness of the night to magnify how very different his experience is in the night without his love next to him.

And one of Neruda's most famous lines, "Love is so short, forgetting is so long," similarly magnifies his experience of loss, noting that in happiness, time seems to pass so quickly, whereas in sadness, time seems to stretch on forever.