When listening to the lines of Pablo Neruda I regret most that I cannot speak Spanish. My studies of French help connect some of the words when listening to an audio version en Español, as it should be listened to in. I fully believe that when writing in a particular language, the author means to write something in that language. As in, words don’t have the same meaning in all language, nor do they have the same impact or emphasis. If I say something to someone in French, I meant the emphasis and implication of it being said in French. Some of Shakespeare’s plays have been performed recently in the dialect that reveals puns that almost seem blatantly obvious when heard correctly. Besides that, Spanish is a romance language and the poetry flows in a way that it won’t translated into English.
Some things that Neruda says in the poem resonate with me, for instance, “I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.” Or something to that effect when translated into English. Perhaps this poem resonates in me most because I have a Spanish ex boyfriend who emphasized its brilliance. Maybe he was right about something. But our volatile relationship did work like that. “She loved me, and sometimes I loved her too.” is another, later, section of the poem. One thing our relationship didn’t lack is passion. That intense brief passion a relationship can only take in small, brief, and intermittent versions.
Maybe España is known for this, and its people, along with the various peoples’ of its colonization efforts in centuries past. Red is the color for passion, and it’s what I picture when I think of the colors of these countries. However, the opposite color is pictured in the opening lines of this poem, “The night is shattered and the blue stars shiver in the distance.” That is the absence of passion. It is a color of calm, of coldness, and sadness. It is appropriate for this poem because we are missing her. She is gone, and she is missed.
The narrator doesn’t love her anymore, or maybe he does. That is the feeling I get when I think of the memories I have of my ex. The highs and lows of passion burn brightly in my mind, as he did when he was in my life. The relationship could be at least considered borderline emotionally abusive with how much of a toll it took on my body and spirit. It’s amazing that in some capacity it existed for 4 years, and nearly two of those, at the end, without ceasing to exist in some on-or-off state. It is however, that kind of passion, those memories that draw us in.
Even now, I think back to when we traveled to a particular place. The last place we ever traveled haunts me when I visit it, “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 was with my currently significant other the last time, but I couldn’t help but feel a kind of melancholy sweep over me for the duration of the trip. It was a suffocating sadness, from time to time. This was our place, and my current relationship doesn’t have those highs or lows, and that’s a good thing, because I love him dearly. “I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.” He would never leave the scars that I already have due to carrying the load of such a hot relationship.
Occasionally I feel hatred, less and less as the time goes on and the memories fade. I never wanted to hear his name or speak to him again for at least a solid year after the break up. I talked to him briefly, as one would talk to an acquaintance, not too long ago. Something I thought I would never do again. It’s like a moth being attracted to the lamp, but I am wiser now. I have been burned many times. Friends briefly crossed my mind, but I realize that isn’t possible, and I think he does too, without ever bringing up the topic. “I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her. Love is so short, forgetting is so long.” However, can you truly forget four years of your life, especially when it was necessary for that person to be your whole life? It has given me a kind of closure, he wished that I was doing well, and I think he meant it honestly. I wished that for him too, and at that moment, I believe I was being honest, too. “Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer and these the last verses that I write for her.” Well, maybe. I can honestly say that I have grown a lot during and after. Reflection is merely a tool for that. Sometimes I think back to my relationships in the long nights. Particularly while wandering through places I’ve been before with them.
I once read that soulmates aren’t supposed to be with you forever. They’re supposed to simply come into your life for a period of time to rip you apart and make you see some aspect of yourself that was otherwise unknown to you. They’re supposed to make you better, well maybe, as I think I’m both better and worse than before depending on the aspect being examined. I’m starting to believe this concept of ‘soulmate’, at least, in that this is the proper definition of a soulmate. Not that anyone is really and truly destined to anything or to be with anyone. This is what is meant with ‘soulmates’.