Poem #16: If you forget me by Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973) was a Chilean poet. He was awarded the Nobel Prize (for literature) in 1971. Enjoy.

If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

(Translated by Donald Walsh. From The Captain’s Verses by Pablo Neruda)

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3 comments

  1. I will be sad when this month is over and you stop highlighting these poems! I really enjoy this portrayal of love and forgetting. I find it interesting how he says ‘my love feeds on your love’. So true how that happens. The first part is like a love song, then it breaks off into a threat of sorts before veering back to love. Did anyone else, upon a second reading, almost see that as a threat?

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    • Don’t worry. I’ve decided to feature at least one poem during the week after April is over. Perhaps I will call it poetic Wednesdays! Yes, there is a threat in there. As though lovers can be threatened into loving. He simply doesn’t want her to entertain a single thought about leaving him.

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