Valentine Reads: “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair”

We all know Valentine’s Day is commercialized. We should be celebrating our loved ones every day, singles get the short end of the stick, most of us only care about the chocolate, etc. etc. Instead of drowning in despair over capitalistic hedonism, why not drown in the despair of Pablo Neruda’s “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair?” Ideal if you’re a secret hopeless romantic who is mad at your partner, you’re a pining single, and/or you’ve run out of quality fanfiction with your OTP.

These poems are beautiful, striking, and heart-wrenching. Neruda twists surreal imagery with truths of human connection. The result is a powerful narrative encapsulating the experience of being romantically involved. When I read these poems, I too almost felt like I was going through the motions – falling in love, futilely hoping, having my heart broken.

Read it in Spanish if you can, otherwise I recommend the version I linked above.

Some memorable lines:

Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain. / I love you still among these cold things.

– “Aquí te amo”

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

– “Puedo escribir”

The birds of night peck at the first stars / That flash like my soul when I love you.

– “Inclinado en las tardes”

Pablo Neruda and Edna St. Vincent Millay are my favorite poets and are big inspirations to my writing.

Check out more of Pablo’s work and maybe look up some of Millay’s poems to top off a perfect anti-capitalistic hedonism version of Valentine’s Day.

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