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By Pablo Neruda

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,   

or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:   

I love you as one loves certain obscure things,   

secretly, between the shadow and the soul.


I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries   

the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,   

and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose   

from the earth lives dimly in my body.


I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,   

I love you directly without problems or pride:

I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,

except in this form in which I am not nor are you,   

so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,   

so close that your eyes close with my dreams.


Pablo Neruda, “One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII” from The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems, edited by Mark Eisner. Copyright © 2004 City Lights Books.

Source: The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems (City Lights Books, 2004)

Poet Bio

Born Ricardo Eliezer Neftali Reyes y Basoalto, Pablo Neruda adopted the pseudonym under which he would become famous while still in his early teens. He grew up in Temuco in the backwoods of southern Chile. Neruda is considered one of the greatest and most influential poets of the twentieth century. His work has been translated into dozens of languages.

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