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If You Forget Me Essay

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Updated: Aug 8th, 2019

“If You Forget Me” is a poem by the Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda’s work spans the period between the first and second world wars. Neruda was also active in the civil movement that took place in Spain. Born in 1904, Pablo Neruda was a Chilean politician, diplomat, and poet (Pablo Neruda – Biography 1). Neruda was an active poet right from the time he was a teenager.

His poetry covered a wide array of topics and themes such as politics, history, love, erotica, and autobiography. In the course of his career, Neruda was faced by several political tribulations including being in exile for a few years. He was also an active member of Chile’s Communist Party. “If You Forget Me” is one of Neruda’s most popular poems. The poem is a significant work of literature and it is rich in well-executed linguistic devices.

“If You Forget Me” was originally written in Spanish like with all other Neruda’s poems. The poem is sourced from “The Captain’s Verses” poetry collection. Many people have erroneously claimed that the poem was penned as a dedication to the poet’s wife Matilde.

However, Neruda’s dedications to his wife were complied in a collection called “100 Love Sonnets”. This particular poem is written in light of Neruda’s exile from his Chilean homeland. The love and passion that is expressed in the poem relates to the poet’s homeland and not his wife.

The poem is made up of seven stanzas of different lengths. In the very first two lines, the poem captures the reader’s attention by expressing the speaker’s eagerness. The poem starts with the lines “I want you to know, one thing” (Neruda 1).

These two lines pull the reader’s attention towards the importance of what the speaker wants to know. The second stanza continues to describe the speaker’s feelings towards the object of his desire. In the speaker’s view, his feelings are not a secret and that is why the second stanza starts with the lines “You know how this is” (Neruda 1).

The object of Pablo Neruda’s affection was his homeland of Chile. The second stanza describes in affectionate details how the speaker feels about his homeland. The lines in the second stanza serve as a confession that even if the speaker is in danger and lives in exile, his feelings about his homeland are unlikely to change. During his stay in Spain, Neruda lived in constant danger because of his involvement in the Civil Movement. This sense of danger is further highlighted by lines such as “the impalpable ash” (Neruda 1).

Pablo Neruda participated in active service of his country in the period beginning from 1927 up to 1935. His work for the government involved a lot of travelling across the world. However, in the end he still returned to his Chilean homeland. He made a more permanent return to his homeland in 1937 (Pablo Neruda – Biography 1).

Shortly after his return, things started going bad for him when his political rival ascended to power. Consequently, Neruda went into hiding. The speaker talks about the dwindling affection from the object of his attention by stating, “If little by little you stop loving me, I shall stop loving you little by little”. The speaker is alluding to the fact that eventually he might not be able to maintain his affection for Chile if the hostile treatment continues.

Neruda’s warrant of arrest in Chile greatly restricted his activities and freedoms. The speaker seems to reach a compromise with his homeland when he says, “if you do not look for me, I shall already have forgotten you”.

This sentiment indicates that Neruda is ready to overlook his past tribulations if he is allowed to live in peace. Naturally, Neruda was a fighter and he rarely backed down. However, his love for his homeland seems to make him act out of character. Near the end of the poem, the poet changes his tone when he is speaking about his exile.

He expresses the possibility of a permanent fall out with his beloved country. He also reckons that his affection for his homeland could be transferred to other lands. In this fifth stanza, the speaker has already dropped the optimism that is evident in the previous stanzas. Neruda stayed in Europe for about three years when he was exiled from Chile. In the last stanza, Neruda is explaining that even if he acknowledges his roots are in Chile, his love and loyalty can still shift to other countries.

The diction employed in this poem is pertinent to the reader’s ability to understand the speaker’s plight. The poem does not abide to any definite structure. In addition, no rhyme patterns are employed in the poem.

However, the poet uses stanzas to segment his plight. The first stanza is used to capture the reader’s attention while the subsequent stanzas are used as a build up to the poem’s climax. The poem’s title acts as an exploratory tool for gauging the impact of the speaker’s tribulations. The appropriateness of this title is cemented by the fact that the poem’s message does not deviate from this line of thought.

The poem is rich in literary devices. These devices are important because they help in forming the poem’s structure and capturing the reader’s attention. The most prominent literary device used in this poem is symbolism.

For instance, the ‘impalpable ash’ is used is used to symbolize the nature of the speaker’s longing for his beloved. Other symbols used in the poem include the red branch, crystal moon, and slow autumn (Neruda 1). The poet also uses imagery and personification when conveying his message. The plight of the speaker relies on imagery for it to be effectively conveyed to the readers.

The poem uses the imagery of seasons to convey the passage of time and the speaker’s longing for his beloved. The poem also uses personification as a literary device. For instance, the ‘log’ is personified in the poem. This personification is used to create a connection between the speaker’s environment and his inner feelings. The use of literary devices enriches the poem and enhances the reader’s interest to the plight of the poet.

The main themes in this poem are separation and emotional connection. It is apparent that the struggles surrounding the speaker’s beloved country and the possibility of separation form the basis of “If You Forget Me”. The Poet expresses his profound feelings for his beloved country (Chile) and the eminent separation.

“If You Forget Me” is one of the most significant poems that were written by Neruda. The poem captures Neruda’s feelings in light of possible rejection by his homeland. The poem remains relevant to date even though it was written about a century ago. The fact that the poet is a Nobel Prize winning writer is yet another statement about the quality of his work.

Works Cited

Neruda, Pablo. “”. PoemHunter.Com – Thousands of Poems and Poets. Poetry Search Engine. 2007. Web.

“Pablo Neruda – Biography”. Nobelprize.org. n.d Web.

Annotated Bibliography

Neruda, Pablo. “If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda”. PoemHunter.Com – Thousands of Poems and Poets. Poetry Search Engine. 2007. Web.

Poem Hunter provides the original publication of Pablo Neruda’s poem “If You Forget Me”. The poem is published in its original format including the arrangement of stanzas. The poem details the relationship between a lover and his beloved. In the beginning, the poem captures the reader’s attention by stating the speaker’s need to know. The poem is consisted of seven stanzas of different lengths. There are no definite rhyme patterns in the poem. Instead, the poem uses other literary devices to appeal to the readers.

The poem successfully conveys passion from the speaker to the readers. The choice of words and phrases used in the poem helps in conveying this passion. For instance, fire, impalpable ash, crystal moon, among other words and phrases are common in the poem. The connection between the speaker and his beloved is well highlighted by the poem. The fact that the speaker does not want this relationship is well highlighted in the poem.

“Pablo Neruda – Biography”. Nobelprize.org. n.d Web.

The Nobel Prize Organization’s website presents a list of all past laureates and their biographies. Pablo Neruda was the 1971 Nobel Prize winner for literature. The Nobel Prize Organization has published all the necessary facts on Pablo Neruda in this website. These facts include a biography, lectures, and Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

The website begins by covering Neruda’s background and early life. Among other things, the website covers Neruda’s humble beginning and his first publications as a teenager. An interesting fact highlighted in this website is that Pablo Neruda was a pen name that later became the poet’s legal name.

There are several facts about Neruda’s biography that help explain some of his literary works. For instance, Neruda’s involvement in both the civil movement in Spain and the Communist Party in Chile inform some of his poems such as “If You Forget Me”. This poem covered the strained relationship between Neruda and the Chilean government.

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