100 Love Sonnets

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Recently I was gifted a book of Pablo Neruda's poems to add to my collection of his selected poems and 'Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair'. This book is special for having come all the way from Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris (I love that place!), and for featuring 100 of his love sonnets (Cien sonetos de amor). I've been savouring them, a truly luscious and sensuous collection.

So far, a standout for me is Sonnet XVII:

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

 

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;

thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,

risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

 

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

 

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.