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I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You by Pablo Neruda (REVIEW)

The inspiration behind Pablo’s pen and (eventual) legal name are disputed. Some have cited a prominent Czech realist poet by the name of Jan Neruda...

9 months ago

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A Critic's Meta Review: 4/5

I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You by Pablo Neruda(REVIEW)

Pablo Neruda, perhaps the most famous Chilean next to General Augusto Pinochet (which is rather unfortunate and, frankly, quite dark of me to say; you know what - I’ll amend it) -

Pablo Neruda, perhaps the most famous Chilean next to Salvador Allende (you know what? I shouldn’t be going with this reference either; as a respectable journalist with a deep appreciation for the art of objectivity, I must remain firmly committed to being apolitical and, as such, should seek to avoid coming across as in support of a specified ideology or toeing (towing?) a particular party’s line, so to speak, as doing so would not be very prudent of me - and we all know that there is nothing respectable about imprudence) -

Is there?

No.

There is nothing respectable about imprudence.

Pablo Neruda, perhaps the most famous Chilean next to Isabel Allende, was born with the name Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto. He later changed his name to Pablo Neruda, but this initially only started out as a pen name. I guess he ended up liking it more than the one his loving parents gave to him (one of whom - his mother, a schoolteacher named Rosa Opazo - tragically passed away just two months after he was born).

The inspiration behind Pablo’s pen and (eventual) legal name are disputed. Some have cited a prominent Czech realist poet by the name of Jan Neruda (who was a man, despite what the first name “Jan” might lead you to believe) as a potential candidate for sparking an interest in the “Neruda” moniker; others have suggested that our buddy Pablo, even though he was a poet through and through (and a very good one at that), was always more of a mystery man, so it could quite possibly be conceived that he stumbled upon “Neruda” while reading about the splendid performance given by the famous Moravian violinist Wilma Neruda in the context of it being attended by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s flagship protagonist - the great Sherlock Holmes, himself a violinist - in the first novel to feature him, A Study In Scarlet.

Nevertheless, Pablo Neruda is the name that he ended up sticking with, so that is what we will refer to him as for the remainder of this review.

Alright, now that we have gotten that settled, let us slide into the potatoes (#nomeatgang) of this three course entrée.

This is a poem about love. Literally - love itself is the subject of this poem. Read it in this context, and you will see exactly what I mean. It took me a while to figure it out, but once I did, I began to see why so many have offered up the latter of the two aforementioned explanations for his pen name.

The poem reads like a mystery. Who is this “you” being referred to? A lover? A friend? His long lost mother?

No, man. It’s love. Not the criminally underrated psychedelic folk style geniuses of the 1960s headed by one of the most innovative songwriters to ever do it, Arthur Lee (just take two in the ol’ teacup, listen to Forever Changes, tuck those bulging pupils in their little skin hammocks for about forty two minutes, and you will see exactly what I mean...and if you don’t, well, then the devil must have your soul stowed away somewhere very far away and you’d better go fetch it before you lose the ability to fathom the existence of anything beautiful and pure).

No, not those guys.

Love itself.

Isn’t that pretty neat? I personally think it is. It is definitely unique, to say the least. And not only is it a poem about love, mind you, but it is perhaps one of the most intricate explorations of all the complexities that love entails I have ever read. Complexities so complex that they are almost impossible to express within the confines of the wordscapes we mere mortals have been granted access to. Indeed, the narrator of this poem (Neruda, presumably) is beside himself trying to figure out just what this “love” thing even is, which leads him to write perhaps my favorite line in the whole thing.

The measure of my changing love for you

is that I do not see you but love you blindly”

Lord knows I have been there, man. In fact, that is pretty much where I live. Thankfully, the rent is not too bad out here. Well, that is, unless you consider all of your time, energy, and steadfast devotion to be a hefty expense, in which case it might be the priciest pad on the block.

But it is the pad that I have chosen to rest my weary head on, and it is really all I’ve got. And it’s all Pablo’s got.

It’s all anyone has ever had and will ever have.

That I can guarantee, for I have been to the other side many a time.

...as have you.


Samir Arora

Published 9 months ago