Poetry Analysis of Pablo Neruda’s “If You Forget Me”
The poem “If You Forget Me” by Pablo Neruda streams down from a speaker who has fallen deeply in love with another woman with whom they have a relationship. Ideally, people in relationships swear allegiances to their partners and have the volition to fight for their love. However, the speaker in the poem clarifies that he would be willing to let his lover if she tried to leave him. “If You Forget Me” fronts a decisive attitude and mood to the poem, reminding the woman that she is indeed his dream woman and he would love her as long as the love between them lives, but will not hesitate to look for other pastures if the woman quits on him. The poem puts across a positive attitude towards relationships that involves the willingness to love and let go if circumstances necessitate it.
The speaker begins the poem by professing how much he loves his woman, although it is unclear whether she is his girlfriend, fiancé, or wife. However, there is a sense of mutuality from which the speaker draws the motivation to keep loving. The speaker says, “my love feeds on your love, beloved” (46-47). The speaker is cautious enough to avoid being in an emotionally desperate situation. He says, “I shall lift my arms, and my roots will set off; to seek another land.” As much as he is in love with the woman, he categorizes his love as directly rooted in the woman’s love for him.
While the poem is a love letter, it is also a warning letter to his beloved woman that he may not be around anymore if she loves him lesser. The speaker uses satire to express what love means to him. “If little by little you stop loving me; I shall stop loving you little by little.” On one end, he claims to love the woman so much that everything he sees reminds him of her, but on the other, he is willing to give the woman a taste of her own medicine. The speaker says, “If suddenly, you forget me, do not look for me, for I shall already have forgotten you” (20-23). In this way, the speaker recognizes that love is not supposed to be given to people as a favor but only to those who deserve it, to say the least.
The speaker finishes his poem with a strong conviction on what love means to him and how much he values the woman with whom he is in love. He says “In me, nothing is extinguished or forgotten.” He has found all the justification for continuing to love the woman, even though it is conditional. The speaker promises to always be on his woman’s side, but only if she stays on his side, without having to chase a lost course. He professes, “And as long as you live, it will be in your arms, without leaving mine” (48-49). All the personal bearing and vindication on romance and love is left on a high note, as the man swears to stay true to his chosen path for as long as the woman wills.
In conclusion, objectivity runs through the poem’s body as the speaker maintains his attitude toward the love of his life. Despite being so deeply in love with her, he is unwilling or ready to let himself loose for the sake of love. He puts his sanity first and only promises to give as much love as he is given. With such an attitude, the speaker feels he will not fall into desperation in pursuit of a lost course.
Neruda, Pablo. “If you forget me.” P. Neruda Captain’s Verses. New York: New Directions Publishing (2004). https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/amartinez-eportfolio/files/2014/12/Outline-2.docx