'XVII (I do not love you...)' by Pablo Neruda

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1959I 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 waythan this: where

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry, XVII by Pablo Neruda: A Deep Dive into the Depths of Love

When it comes to romantic poetry, Pablo Neruda is a name that instantly comes to mind. Among his many works, "Poetry, XVII" stands out as a masterpiece that captures the essence of love and longing in just a few short stanzas.

In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll explore the themes, literary devices, and poetic techniques used by Neruda to create a timeless work of art that continues to resonate with readers today.


"Poetry, XVII" is a poem that expresses the speaker's love and devotion to their beloved. However, unlike traditional love poetry, Neruda's poem does not focus on physical attraction or romantic gestures. Instead, the poem is a declaration of the speaker's deep emotional and spiritual connection to their lover.

The poem is structured into four quatrains, with each stanza representing a different stage of the speaker's emotional journey. The poem begins with the speaker acknowledging their lack of love for their lover, but ends with a powerful declaration of their eternal love and devotion.


The central theme of "Poetry, XVII" is love, specifically the intense emotional and spiritual connection between two individuals. The poem explores the depths of this connection, highlighting the transformative power of love and the ways it can change a person's perspective on life and the world around them.

Another theme that emerges from the poem is the idea of vulnerability and surrender. The speaker acknowledges that their initial reluctance to love was rooted in fear and self-preservation. However, they eventually surrender to their emotions and allow themselves to be vulnerable in the face of their lover's love.

Literary Devices

Neruda employs a range of literary devices to create a rich and vivid poetic experience. One of the most prominent devices used in the poem is repetition. The phrase "I do not love you" is repeated multiple times throughout the poem, creating a sense of tension and anticipation that builds towards the final declaration of love.

Another device used by Neruda is metaphor. The speaker compares their lover to various natural elements, such as the moon, the sun, and the wind. These comparisons highlight the speaker's awe and admiration for their lover, as well as their belief in the power of their connection.

Poetic Techniques

Neruda uses a range of poetic techniques to create a lyrical and evocative poem. One of the most notable techniques used in "Poetry, XVII" is enjambment. The lines of the poem flow seamlessly into each other, creating a sense of fluidity and movement that mirrors the speaker's emotional journey.

Another technique used by Neruda is imagery. The poem is full of vivid and sensory descriptions that bring the speaker's emotions to life. For example, the line "I love you as one loves certain obscure things, / secretly, between the shadow and the soul" creates a powerful image of love as something mysterious and intangible.


At its core, "Poetry, XVII" is a poem about the transformative power of love. The speaker begins the poem with a declaration of their lack of love for their lover, but as the poem progresses, they begin to open themselves up to the possibility of love.

Throughout the poem, the speaker is grappling with their own fears and insecurities, which prevent them from fully embracing their emotions. However, as they surrender to their feelings, they discover a deeper sense of connection and understanding with their lover.

The final stanza of the poem is a powerful declaration of the speaker's love and devotion. The lines "I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where, / I love you simply, without problems or pride" encapsulate the raw and unfiltered nature of the speaker's love. They have relinquished control and given themselves over completely to their emotions, finding solace and fulfillment in their connection with their lover.


"Poetry, XVII" is a timeless work of art that captures the essence of love and the transformative power of emotional connection. Through its vivid imagery, lyrical language, and powerful emotional arc, the poem continues to resonate with readers today.

For anyone who has ever been in love, the poem is a reminder of the depth and complexity of our emotions, and the ways in which love can change us in profound and unexpected ways.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry XVII, also known as "I do not love you," is a classic poem written by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. This poem is one of the most famous and widely read love poems in the world, and it has been translated into many languages. The poem is a beautiful and poignant expression of love, and it captures the essence of what it means to love someone deeply.

The poem begins with the line "I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz," which sets the tone for the rest of the poem. Neruda is saying that he does not love the person he is addressing in the way that one might love a precious stone or a rare flower. He is not comparing his love to something that is valuable or rare, but rather to something that is ordinary and common.

Neruda goes on to say that he loves the person "without knowing how, or when, or from where." This line is particularly powerful because it suggests that love is something that cannot be explained or understood. It is a force that comes from within and is beyond our control. Neruda is saying that his love for this person is not something that he can explain or rationalize, but rather something that he feels deeply and passionately.

The next line of the poem is "I love you simply, without problems or pride." This line is significant because it suggests that Neruda's love is pure and uncomplicated. He is not concerned with the problems or challenges that may arise in a relationship, nor is he interested in pride or ego. His love is simple and straightforward, and it is based on a deep and genuine connection with the person he is addressing.

Neruda then goes on to say that he loves the person "in this way because I do not know any other way of loving." This line is particularly poignant because it suggests that Neruda's love is not a choice, but rather something that is innate and instinctual. He loves this person because he cannot help but love them, and he does not know any other way of expressing his love.

The final lines of the poem are perhaps the most famous: "so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep." These lines are incredibly powerful because they suggest a deep and intimate connection between Neruda and the person he is addressing. He is saying that their love is so close and so intense that they are almost one and the same. Their hands are intertwined, and their eyes close together as they fall asleep.

Overall, Poetry XVII is a beautiful and powerful expression of love. Neruda's words are simple yet profound, and they capture the essence of what it means to love someone deeply and passionately. The poem is a testament to the power of love, and it reminds us that love is something that cannot be explained or understood, but rather something that is felt deeply and passionately.

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