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(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973 / Parral / Chile)

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If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.

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Comments about this poem (Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda )

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  • Glendalee Diaz (7/24/2007 3:08:00 PM)

    This was such a beautiful poem, it made me cry. good job.

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  • Ryan Buaron (7/19/2007 1:18:00 AM)

    I cant help but shed a tear everytime I read this poem. Such, such, such a horrifying beauty of love...

  • Stephen Body (7/16/2007 4:46:00 PM)

    This poem says a lot of what makes Neruda so irreplacable for me. He sets up the last stanza perfectly in how cavalierly he seems to treat the woman in the beginning, until he says that, as completely I will forget you if you forget me, so will I love and devote myself to you eternally if you'll just give me the same. It's a very mature and reasoned kind of love poem, not, as another poster said, that blind, overwhelmed, hopeless love that motivates most love poetry. The impact of his offer of his love would have rung as hollow and trite as a Hallmark card if it weren't given this counterpoint. I've lived with these poems for over 35 years, now and they just get better with the passage of time.

  • Dennis Mathenge (7/14/2007 8:05:00 AM)

    the poet tries to explain that unconditional love is two sided and that it's spontaneous and mutual.You have to sacrifice something in return for love and its about giving not expecting to get all the time.It's so sentimental but realistic.

  • Mikee Cerna (7/7/2007 10:56:00 AM)

    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. - everlasting love he has! though she may forgotten her love to him, his love will repeat over and over again, not being forgotten, not lost.... and that as long as she lives, his love for her remains....

  • Francois Hoon (6/29/2007 6:06:00 PM)

    The motivation for love is not about what you get back when you love, it should be unconditional. But, the criteria for the continuous existance of a shared love is conditional on both parties keeping it alive, and not allowing themselves to let something precious slip by doing things which will have a lasting negative impact on that precious love
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  • Myrtle and Roses (6/22/2007 3:12:00 AM)

    Thank you David for your interesting comment. It made me question about a poem i've liked for a long time. However I think it actually deals with growing old, and passion. Neruda's love is real, he alludes in the first paragraph to future and growing old together. I don't think it is conditional love but true love indeed. But he steps out of conventions which classically describe true love as a noble, generous, uninterested love (such as Gandhi, Jesus, poets loving the one they lost, etc) , and this love is much more respected than passion, which is supposedly immature and/or superficial. But it seems than to Neruda passion is just as important as deep love, quite obviously in The Captain Verses for instance where passion is a recurrent theme. So i think after speaking about eternity and everlasting love (the moon, wrinkled log...) , he underlines the necessity of keeping passion alive in order to keep their love alive, and so himself alive. 'Aromas, light, metals' refer to the use of senses, and the lines that follow, to sex. When he says 'and my roots will set off/ to seek another land' I think he alludes more to death rather than to another woman. His love feeds on her love, but he obviously loves her more than what can be interpreted as superficial and conditional. He might fear the death of passion, her passion which would induce his death, way before she'd even realize it.

  • David Brady (6/7/2007 4:30:00 PM)

    Everybody gets hung up on the 'threat' that is supposedly made by this poem. Which makes sense, because it is what makes this poem so original, but I see something different. He isn't threatening to leave his love... he is using that idea to make another point, well, two points. For one he takes you on a path away from the point that he loves her to give the last verse more impact (which works really well in this poem) . But what I think he is doing is using this idea to define a specific type of love. A mature love, that isn't there because it HAS to be, it's there because it wants to be. The main point of this poem, in my opinion, is from the 3rd from the last line... 'my love feeds on your love'. Everything else in the poem leads up to this. And this poem makes a great point that love itself needs love to exist. People call this a 'conditional love' and apply a sarcastic or negative connotation to it, but I feel that that mentality is really idealistic and leads to a fleeting love. Philosophically speaking, what kind of love would it be if you were willing to hold on to it after your lover stopped loving you? Could you respect that type of love or find it any virtue in it? I couldn't.

  • Cassandra Lee (4/27/2007 11:00:00 PM)

    brilliantpoem. It brings love poems to a new level, he brings the words to life! !

  • Adrian Currier (4/8/2007 9:09:00 PM)

    sounds like a very conditional love (quite different from the passionate, clingy, romantic love commonly written of in poetry)

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