Love of Poetry

Happy National Poetry Month! It has been a week of poetry reading and writing and revelry. I hope you have been enjoying the increased awareness and poetic events in your local communities. Shout outs to Serena at for orchestrating this blog tour.

I used to get annoyed with people who said that they don’t like poetry, that poetry doesn’t make sense to them. I wondered how they saw the world and questioned their ability to appreciate beauty. Ok, fine, I still do that sometimes, but most of the time I realize it’s not my concern. There’s beauty in small moments like the fluttering of a baby’s eyelids as he wakes up, or the struggle of a monarch butterfly during its emergence, or the simple recognition of love in another person’s eyes. Poetry highlights these gems of life in language that speaks to my heart. For the love of poetry, enjoy this love sonnet by Pablo Neruda:

XVII (I do not love you…)
Pablo Neruda
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

An editorial note by Leslie Pockell postulates that the love he speaks of in this poem is what he experienced with his third wife, Matilde Urrutia. “Something passionate and profound, but also easy and natural….” What speaks to me is the reality in a solid reality, words that aren’t inflated, words that are accurate, words that create an exact image. Sure, I’m a sucker for love poems, but I especially like ones that begin “I do not love you…”
What kind of poetry speaks to you? 


11 thoughts on “Love of Poetry

  1. Pablo Neruda makes me sigh happy sighs. Thanks for sharing this sonnet today. The funny thing about people saying they don't like poetry is that there are so many types, styles, and topics of poems that it's like saying “I don't like words.” I think they just haven't been exposed to ones that they would like.

  2. @Tabatha – You're right. I think people aren't exposed to enough poetry. They put poetry in a box that's dense or too literary or snooty and cross off all poems because of that false idea. And yes, happy sighs all around…

    @estrella – Glad you like the poem. It is one of my favorites, especially the last stanza.

  3. I love Neruda but I don't think I have come across this one yet. Thanks for sharing it! Also, I don't understand people who say they don't like poetry or that it doesn't make sense either.

  4. I'll second (or 3rd, or 4th?) the idea that those who say they don't like poetry just haven't found the right poems yet. Are song lyrics poetic? Do they like those? It's a start! I do think the way poetry is taught at the beginning when we really start learning about literary forms kills a lot of interest. Dissecting a frog isn't going to make you into an environmentalist, is it?

    I love many kinds of poetry, but do admit that some modern stuff loses me. I like gorgeous strong images, emotion, language.

  5. Melwyk,

    You make a great point, it's not just about exposure but about how people have been introduced to poetry that gives it a bad name. I think it is the responsibility of the poet, poetry lovers, and poetry publishers to rekindle interest about poetry and make it relevant to people. I agree, some poetry does nothing for me, but I respond to imagery, cleverness, strong emotion, and language gymnastics. Thanks for your comment!

  6. I've never understood the paradoxes that I think are common in Neruda–how can the love be secret and dark, and then “without complexities”?

  7. I think love poetry is probably my least favorite kind of poetry, because I've seen so much done badly. However, I did like this one. When it's done right, it can be really good…

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