Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pablo Neruda, Relationships, and Dog Poo

This will be convoluted and and schizophrenic.

I feel like an emotional bandit every time I hear or read someone else's words and think, "Exactly! That about sums it up." I guess that's why I have never been much of an artist or creative writer, but I like to think I have a well-developed appreciation for the good stuff. And so it is with Pablo Neruda. "Tonight I can Write," has long been my favorite poem and is even more so now that my own emotions are echoed in its words.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, 'The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
Ans the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. As my kisses before her.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

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

Ah, Pablo. I finally know how you must have felt. I obviously continue to wrestle with the break up and to think of it in alternating terms of clarity and confusion. That's what I like so much about Neruda's poem. There's confusion and ambiguity with concern to the lost relationship, sometimes in the same breath:

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.

For the speaker though, there's a difference between his feelings about the relationship and his understanding of his future with concern to it:

We, of that time, are no longer the same.

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

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

The loss and lonliness that is experienced at the end of a relationship is conveyed through the persistant references to the night and distance. Any proximity to the speaker is written about in terms of stillness and isolation.

I guess this is more analysis than epiphany or new thought, but it has helped to re-read this poem and to talk to my brother-in-law about a significant previous relationship of his that ended in a similar fashion. I think all people get some sick feeling of comfort in knowing that someone else has felt similarly, it's just rarely expressed as well as Neruda has expressed it in this instance.

I think about her as much as Neruda must have thought about his "her," but more so I wonder about the future. My brother-in-law broke my heart when he told me he had stayed up at night after his break up asking his female puppy why she was the only girl who loved him, but he told me this from the perspective of a happily married man in a committed, functional relationship. I look forward to having what he has as I realize how far I still need to go. I do miss her, but I'm finding that I do not at all miss the constant wondering, guessing, and emotional limbo that comes from committing to something that has been perpetually set aside until the time is right.

For now, I'm good. Ironically, my female puppy has become the woman in my life and has taught me a lot more I suppose I still needed to learn about maturity, commitment, and reponsibility. There is no "setting things aside" with a puppy. I tried that one morning at 5:30 and Mazzy crapped all over her crate. She'll continue to have accidents and I'll continue to learn, but I made a 12-15 year commitment the second I bought her and I look forward to getting our imperfections right. At some point I'll have to ante up to real women again . . . but not yet.

3 comments:

rookie teacher said...

I think it's safe to say that we've all been there.

That was a beautiful poem. And unfortunately I'm able to relate to it as well. As cliche as it sounds ... time is all you need. Some people need less time and some need more.

I'm a person who happens to be in the latter category.

K said...

Oh, my friend. You're not an emotional bandit; that's why poetry exists. Sometimes things, events, people are so close that it's hard to express yourself rationally (or irrationally) or in any kind of constructive context. And then you discover that someone else has done it for you - has been to that place and pieced together all the jumbled thoughts into something with which you can commiserate - and it feels like a burden has been slightly lifted.

At least...that's how I always felt. Anyway, you: not an emotional bandit. :) And Neruda: excellent emotional siphon. This was always my favorite of his (no matter how overused it is):

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/sonnet-xvii/

Yam said...

I know it is a sick feeling of comfor t when you know you are not alone. I love this poem. It is so easy to love, to be lost in it all and then suddenly you are left in the lurch and it takes ever so much time to forget.
Its scary how you alternate between confusion about whether to let go or to hold on. nice post
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