TONIGHT I CAN WRITE
-Pablo Neruda.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, “The night is starry
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.”

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
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. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, 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.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

Neruda, deeply haunted by the memories of a lost love, sits to pen down his emotions, seeking catharsis to pacify the agony of losing his beloved. The poem, “Tonight I Can Write” is the medium through which his desolation and pain is being projected.

He says that the stars punctuating the inky sky are “blue and shiver in the distance”, which probably reflects the lack of warmth in his life. The night time, which makes frequent appearances in the poem, is when the world falls silent, and one can reflect back on one’s life. The poet says this night is so similar to the bygone nights when he held his beloved in his arms, and “kissed her again and again”, yet so different due to her absence from his life

Loss of love can be excruciatingly painful, and the complete comprehension of it, even more so.  It prompts the poet to doubt his capacity for love, as he thinks that it was not enough to keep her by his side. He says that the nights seem even more intense, and vast, without her, and unbearably lonely too. He feels a heart-wrenching pain to realize, that his love for her, which he had thought was of cosmic proportions, and all-enduring, is not reciprocated, and she would be another man’s lover now.

Nature, with the singing wind, silvery moonlight, and the vast, unending obscure night, sympathizes with the poet’s loss and desperation, as he frantically searches to bring her closer, his very existence craving for that intimate touch.

The poem is written in staggered, incomplete, prosaic lines where the past and the present are constantly juxtaposed. The present tells us that he is trying, desperately to bring about a closure to the traumatizing experience, but the momentary lapses into the past, suggest his failure. He is trying to convince himself that with these lines, he will forget his beloved, and not allow the loss to hurt him anymore. But, it is these very lines which bear testimony to the fact that he is failing, as he is still engrossed and enveloped in the rush of the passionate memories that he and his sweetheart had once shared.

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