Tonight I can write – Summary and Questions



Pablo Neruda is one of the most popular poets of the world A Communist senator, diplomat and activist. Neruda’s poetry is remarkable for its rich variety and striking originality. This is the last poem in the volume, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924). The poem is a monologue on love.

In this love poem, ‘Tonight I can write’, Pablo Neruda probes the complex feeling of love, by singing about the loss of his lady and his attempt to give poetic utterance to the loss.

The lady whom he has loved is going to be another’s and the poet thinks that he can voice his loss in the most poignant terms. He can express it in the conventional way, that the night is shattered and the blue stars shiver in the distance. The wind revolves in the sky and sings. He remembers that he loved his lady. Perhaps she also loved him, but he is not sure. He held her with his arms, through night like the present one and kissed her under the endless sky. She certainly loved him, maybe he also loved her, for no one could have missed her great still eyes. Perhaps he can write the saddest lines when he thinks that he does not have her and feels that he has lost her forever, and the night is more fierce without her. His verse may fall to the soul like dew drops to the green pasture.

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It is no use thinking that his love could not keep her. The night is shattered and she is no longer with him. Someone is singing in the distance, and his soul is not at all happy that it has lost her. His sight searches for her, and his heart looks for her. The same moonlit nights whiten the same trees. But they are no longer the same.

It is certain that he no longer loves her, but he loved her once very much. His voice could not reach her. She is going to be another’s, her voice, bright body and infinite eyes – all will be another’s. It is true that he no longer loves her, but he may love her. His love was so short but forgetting may take longer time. This may be the last pain she makes him suffer, and this the last verse he writes for her.

Though there is much in the poem that is in line with the conventional romantic lyrics, Neruda’s love poem strikes a new note in that it is not addressed to the loved one and that it probes the complexity of love.

The poem also challenges the convention of traditional love poetry and the very conception of romantic love. Mutability is presented as a reality in love relationship and it is suggested that the grief caused will soon be forgotten and will lead to a revival of love.

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Poetic Devices

Metaphor: The poet has used some metaphors in the poem. For example, ‘The night is shattered’ and ‘The blue stars shiver in the distance’.These are the metaphors of the present state of the speaker about his love life. His passion is now broken like that night, and where there was warmth once, now there is coldness, coldness between the lovers, cold to the extent making him shiver.

Irony: The speaker at first claims that he loved her, and sometimes she loved him back. It creates a belief that the love now lost was first lost from the girl’s hand. But then, the speaker says she loved him and sometimes he loved her back. So we’re now unsure who was primarily responsible for the lost love.

Imagery: Throughout the poem, the night is revealed to us in several respects. In the second paragraph,’ the night is shattered’ and’ blue stars shiver’ make us see the night as the speaker sees it; cold and shattered. Imageries such as ‘ endless clouds,” dew to the pasture’ and’ night whitening the trees’ continue in the following paragraphs. The imagery lets us painfully sense the speaker’s grief.

Repetition: We also find repetition in the poem. There are many lines repeated in this poem. The title of the poem itself is repeated three times throughout the entire poem. Then the lines like’ I loved her’ and ‘loved me sometimes’ are also seen to be repeated. These repetitions emphasize the feelings of the speaker and portray the state of their love while it lasted. It emphasizes the melancholy and the sadness that the speaker feels.

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Free Verse: The poem is written by free verse. It is without rhyme and rhythm. It is written in simple and concise language.

Personification: We also find personification has been used in the poem when the speaker says the ‘blue stars shiver’.

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