I am not a poet, nor have I really appreciated poetry. Poetry always seemed to contrived to me, people writing to fit a specific form, a specific meter. I could never stand studying it in high school, Robert Frost annoyed me to no end. I once heard someone say that poetry is a young man’s game. I could not disagree more. In college, I read ‘Leaves of Grass’ for the first time, and some stanzas here or there made sense to me. I still didn’t regard poetry as a literary pursuit. Yes, there were the epics like ‘The Odyssey’ which were myths in a specific form. I used to write haikus because I thought they were hilarious and incredibly easy to write.
That all changed when I read the poetry of Pablo Neruda.
Neruda was a Chilean poet of great renown who composed in Spanish. He won the Nobel Prize in 1971 for Literature and I’m sure all of his poems carry weight, but reading his poems about love resonated within me in a way that few things ever have. His words were at once prideful at having felt love, yet ashamed of being utterly controlled by it. Neruda communicated with such urgency, and that necessity spoke to me. He wrote without pretense, without a sense of what was appropriate, only what he felt truthfully in that moment. But most of all, it felt like he wrote with reckless abandon, expressing at the core the raw emotions that we all feel, but chose his words so beautifully that it seemed sublime.
My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
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 no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another’s. She will be another’s. Like my kisses before.
Her void. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
I’m writing this not to expose you to a Nobel Laureate, but just because I found my way back to reading Neruda last night. It made me realize how jaded I’d become when it comes to romantic love. “Love is so short, forgetting is so long.” Haunting. Beautiful. Truthful. It made me realize how much I missed romance, it made me wonder if I had ever experienced romance, it made me stop and think about what I wanted from a woman. And then, I read this
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
That’s what I want. I don’t know how I’ll get there, if I’ll ever get there, who she is, where she is, or how I’ll ever win her over, but I know that’s what I want.
Love, because there is no other way.