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A-level & IB English - Pablo Neruda: XX. Tonight I Can Write

A guide to resources on Pablo Neruda for your A-level or IB English topic - compiled by your librarians

Love Poem #

Tonight I Can Write

Read by: Andy Garcia

(Source of Audio: youtube)

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example,'The night is shattered
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 [shattered] 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 searches for her as though to go to 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. Like my kisses before.]
Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her inifinite 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 sould 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.


- Pablo Neruda


 

Summary and Study Guide

Preview of Tonight I can Write Summary : 

Lines 1-4
The theme of distance is introduced in the opening line. When the speaker informs the reader, "Tonight I can write the saddest lines," he suggests that he could not previously.

Lines 5-10
Neruda repeats the first line in the fifth and follows it with a declaration of the speaker's love for an unnamed woman. The staggered repetitions Neruda employs throughout the poem provide thematic unity.

Lines 11-14
In line eleven Neruda again repeats his opening line, which becomes a plaintive refrain. The repetition of that line shows how the speaker is struggling to maintain distance, to convince himself that enough time has passed for him to have the strength to think about his lost love.

Lines 15-18
In line fifteen the speaker refuses to analyze their relationship. What is important to him is that "the night is starry and she is not with me" as she used to be on similar starry nights. "This is all" that is now central to him.

Lines 19-26
In these lines the speaker expresses his longing to reunite with his love. His sight and his heart try to find her, but he notes, "she is not with me." He again remembers that this night is so similar to the ones they shared together.

Lines 27-32
The speaker reiterates, "I no longer love her, that's certain," but immediately contradicts himself, uncovering his efforts at self deception when he admits, "but maybe I love her." With a world-weary tone of resignation, he concludes, "love is so short, forgetting is so long." His poem has become a painful exercise in forgetting.

Spanish Version

Puedo Escribir

Read by: Gian Franco Pagliaro

(Source of Audio: youtube)

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.

Escribir, por ejemplo: «La noche está estrellada,
y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos.»

El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.

En las noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos.
La besé tantas veces bajo el cielo infinito.

Ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería.
Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido.

Oir la noche inmensa, más inmnesa sin ella.
Y el verso cae al alma como al pasto el rocío.

Qué importa que mi amor no pudiera guardarla.
La noche está estrellada y ella no está conmigo.

Eso es todo. A lo lejos alguien canta. A lo lejos.
Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Como para acercarla mi mirada la busca.
Mi corazón la busca, y ella no está conmigo.

La misma noche que hace blanquear los mismos árboles.
Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero cuánto la quise.
Mi voz buscaba el viento para tocar su oído.

De otro. Será de otro. Como antes de mis besos.
Su voz, su cuerpo claro. Sus ojos infinitos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero.
Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido.

Porque en noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos,
mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Aunque éste sea el último dolor que ella me causa,
y éstos sean los últimos versos que yo le escribo.

- Pablo Neruda