“Si Tu Me Olvidas” by Pablo Neruda

QUIERO que sepas
una cosa.

Tú sabes cómo es esto:
si miro
la luna de cristal, la rama roja
del lento otoño en mi ventana,
si toco
junto al fuego
la impalpable ceniza
o el arrugado cuerpo de la leña,
todo me lleva a ti,
como si todo lo que existe,
aromas, luz, metales,
fueran pequeños barcos que navegan
hacia las islas tuyas que me aguardan.

Ahora bien,
si poco a poco dejas de quererme
dejaré de quererte poco a poco.

Si de pronto
me olvidas
no me busques,
que ya te habré olvidado.

Si consideras largo y loco
el viento de banderas
que pasa por mi vida
y te decides
a dejarme a la orilla
del corazón en que tengo raíces,
piensa
que en ese día,
a esa hora
levantaré los brazos
y saldrán mis raíces
a buscar otra tierra.

Pero
si cada día,
cada hora
sientes que a mí estás destinada
con dulzura implacable.
Si cada día sube
una flor a tus labios a buscarme,
ay amor mío, ay mía,
en mí todo ese fuego se repite,
en mí nada se apaga ni se olvida,
mi amor se nutre de tu amor, amada,
y mientras vivas estará en tus brazos
sin salir de los míos.

A diplomat and a poet, a communist and a Nobel prize winner, Pablo Neruda left a rich legacy. His books won several awards, including the Stalin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples (1953), award from Chile National literature committee (1945), and the Nobel Prize for Literature (1971).

The poet’s real name is Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto. His native country, Chile, was the place where everything in his life was closely related and connected. He was born in Chile and grew up there. All his life he struggled for the communist future for his country.

Ricardo wrote his first poems very early. As far as his father disapproved of his work, the young poet invented a pseudonym, under which he published his poems throughout his life. This is how Pablo Neruda appeared.

He published his first volume of poetry at his own expense. It was the success of this volume that gave the young author a chance to find financial support for publishing his second book.

The poem “Si Tu Me Olvidas”, like most of Neruda’s poems, is rich in emotions, feelings, and images. It is one of his best works. Neruda’s biographers typically divide his poems into two periods and tendencies: modernism and avant-gardism. In this poem, however, features of both the tendencies can be found. In addition to poetic devices, the text abounds in allusions to the author’s personal life. “Si Tu Me Olvidas” could be devoted to any woman Ricardo was close to in his life. The poet claimed that only the love of a woman who is with him at the moment can make him fall in love.

The uneven form of the verses, lines of differing length are far from formal poetic harmony – the fact that, from the author’s point of view, makes the poem sound more sincere and natural. Neruda himself compares this verse with crude woodwork.

The words “Si de pronto me olvidas no me busques, que ya te habré olvidado” could allude to any of his women (he had been married three times, to say nothing of other relationships). It was only his country to which his love remained unchanged throughout his life. He was devoted to it even at the time when Chile was ruled by people who destroyed everything dear to the poet’s heart.

To any woman in his life the poet could say: “Si consideras largo y loco el viento de banderas que pasa por mi vida y te decides a dejarme a la orilla del corazón en que tengo raíces, piensa que en esa día, a esa hora levantaré los brazos y saldrán mis raíces a buscar otra tierra”. Yet, whenever he left Chile for another country, he always came back. His roots always stayed in Chilean land, his destiny was always connected with his country. Pablo Neruda was lucky to spend most of his life in Chile and die there, although the destiny of the rebel was hardly rich in human happiness.

Reviewed by Katerina Sidoruk

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