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If you forget me Pablo Neruda

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English Literature

'If You Forget Me' (1952) by Pablo Neruda is considered one of the greatest love poems ever written by the prolific Chilean poet. Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was thought to have written the poem either to his mistress, Matilde Urrutia, or to his other great love, Chile, while he was in political exile from his native country.

Pablo Neruda is a penname. His real name is Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto.

'If You Forget Me' Poem

I want you to know

one thing.

You know how this is:

if I look

at the crystal moon, at the red branch

of the slow autumn at my window,

if I touch

near the fire

the impalpable ash

or the wrinkled body of the log.

Everything carries me to you,

as if everything that exists,

aromas, lights, metals,

were little boats that sail

toward those isles of yours that wait for me

Well, now,

if little by little you stop loving me

I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly

you forget me

do not look for me,

for I shall have already forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,

the wind banners

that passes through my life,

and you decide

to leave me at the shore

of the heart where I have root,

remember

that on the day,

at that hour,

I shall lift my arms

and my roots will set off

to seek another land.

But

if each day,

each hour,

you feel that you are destined for me

with implacable sweetness,

if each day a flower

climbs up to your lips to seek me,

ah my love, ah my own,

in me all that fire is repeated,

in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,

my love feeds on your love, beloved,

and as long as you live it will be in your arms

without leaving mine.

Analysis of 'If You Forget Me' by Pablo Neruda

If You Forget Me, heart shaped cloud, StudySmarterA heart, Pixabay

'If You Forget Me' begins with the speaker directly addressing a lover. The speaker begins by describing how if he looks at the moon or a branch and how if he touches various objects, he is transported to images of her. The speaker's tone changes however in the third and fourth stanzas where he warns his lover that if she were to forget him, he would stop loving her and would immediately forget her.

Some believe that Neruda intended the title and the first line of the poem to flow together so that it reads: "If you forget me, I want you to know one thing." This further emphasizes the warning tone of the poem.

He continues to warn her in the fifth stanza that if she leaves him behind on the shore where he has his roots, he will simply pick up his roots and find another land. In the final stanza, the speaker returns to a more loving tone reminding her that if she feels destined for him and if she continues to love him, he will return the love passionately and eternally.

Pablo Neruda's 'If You Forget Me': Literary devices

Poem Structure

'If You Forget Me' by Pablo Neruda has six stanzas. The poem is considered a free verse poem, which means it does not contain meter, rhyme, or pattern and is more similar to speech.

Stanza— Grouped lines within a poem.

Each stanza within the poem varies in length and pattern. The first stanza contains only two lines while the second stanza contains thirteen. This is done to mimic natural speech so that you feel the speaker is speaking directly to you.

Tone

Tone is the author's attitude towards the main topic of the written piece. The tone in this poem is warning and sincere. The speaker is clearly warning his lover:

Well, now,

if little by little you stop loving me

I shall stop loving you little by little" (Lines 16-18).

Notice the parallel use of the phrase "little by little" which only emphasizes the warning tone of the speaker by showing how her actions will only be reciprocated with a similar reaction.

The speaker may be warning the lover, but there is a tone of sincerity that shows the speaker passionately loves her and does not wish to ever be parted from her.

... my love feeds on your love, beloved,

and as long as you live it will be in your arms

without leaving mine" (Lines 45-47).

How does the speaker's tone in the sixth stanza compare to the tone in the 3-5th stanzas? Try to pinpoint specific words and phrases that show the differences.

Figurative language

Figurative language can be found in the poem 'If You Forget Me' by Pablo Neruda in several ways. Metaphors, enjambment, imagery, and personification are all examples of figurative language found in the poem.

Metaphor

Metaphor— an indirect comparison between two things that are not similar.

Extended Metaphor— a type of metaphor that can be found in multiple lines or stanzas of a poem

In the poem, Neruda compares objects such as light and metal to "little sailboats" that sail towards isles which are compared to his lover.

As if everything that exists,

aromas, light, metals,

were little boats that sail

toward those isles of yours that wait for me" (Lines 12-15).

This is an example of an extended metaphor because the comparison between the objects and boats, and the isles to the lover extend over multiple lines. Extended metaphors are often used by poets to take a concept or idea that may be difficult to visualize and visualize it in a way readers may comprehend. Neruda wanted the reader to understand just how deep the speaker's love is for his lover, but visualized it in the form of boats going to isles. This not only shows the depth of the speaker's love but also creates an image that is memorable to the reader.

Enjambment

Enjambment— the continuation of a phrase or sentence over multiple lines of poetry.

Multiple examples can be found in 'If You Forget Me' as each stanza is one sentence that flows over multiple lines of the poem. The sentence only ends when the stanza ends which allows the poem to flow smoothly and fluidly. Neruda's intentional line breaks help to create a rhythm within the lines which then allows the first of the line to be emphasized. This is most powerful when he breaks a line and begins the next one with the word "if".

"If I look" (Line 4)

"if little by little you stop loving me" (Line 17)

"if each day" (Line 35)

This emphasizes the warning tone of the poem, revealing the conditional nature of the speaker's love. Neruda's use of enjambment also forces the reader to take a slight pause before continuing such as when Neruda begins Stanza 3 with "Well, now," and Stanza 6 with only the word "But". He does this to emphasize to the reader where a transition in tone is happening in the poem. Between stanzas 2 and 3, the speaker goes from a loving person to a threatening one. Between stanzas 5 and 6, the speaker transitions from a threatening tone to a loving one once more.

Imagery

Imagery— a form of figurative language that stimulates the senses including touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight.

Imagery is used by Pablo Neruda in 'If You Forget Me' to create a setting for the poem that is beautiful, vivid, and memorable. Examples of imagery in the poem include:

"Crystal moon" and "red branch" (Line 5)

"slow autumn" (line 6)

"wrinkled body of the log" (Line 10)

Notice how a majority of the imagery in the poem is in the first stanza of the poem. Why do you think Neruda did this? Think about how it speaks to the overall tone, theme, and message of the poem.

Personification

Personification— When an author will give human characteristics to non-human objects, animals, or ideas.

Neruda uses personification throughout the poem 'If You Forget Me' to convey certain concepts in a way that is vivid and imaginative.

If each day a flower

climbs up to your lips to seek me..." (Lines 40-41).

Here, Neruda gives a flower the human ability to climb and kiss. This allows Neruda to indirectly explain to his lover that even if they are unable to kiss, all she has to do is kiss the flower and he will know the kiss is meant for him.

'If You Forget Me' Theme and Meaning

If You Forget Me, heart shape, StudySmarterHeart, Pixabay.

The central theme of the poem 'If You Forget Me' by Pablo Neruda is that of love and loss. Love inspires within the speaker an emotional response to his lover that is both loving yet slightly threatening. The speaker refers to the lover as "ah my love, ah my own" (line 42) and as his "beloved" (line 45). His love is so passionate that when he looks, touches, and senses the world around him everything brings him back to the image of his lover.

However, the threat of losing love also creates an emotional response within the speaker who threatens his lover that if she stops loving him, he will do the same. Most striking is the speaker's sentiment in stanza 4:

If suddenly

you forget me

do not look for me

for I shall already have forgotten you" (Stanza 4).

Declaring that the speaker has already forgotten the lover before the lover has even forgotten him shows the intensity of his meaning. The loss would be so great to the speaker, he'd rather it never existed at all. The overall meaning of the poem then becomes that within love there is always a sense of insecurity in the face of potential rejection, lack of reciprocation, and sacrifice and as humans who love we must learn to grapple with those feelings.

'If You Forget Me' Symbolism

If You Forget Me,  Fire, StudySmarterSymbol of Fire, pixabay.

There are a few key symbols that appear throughout 'If You Forget Me' by Pablo Neruda. The symbol of fire appears many times in different forms and represents the passion of the speaker and how intense his love for his lover is.

"if I touch

near the fire..." (Lines 7-8)

"in me, all that fire is repeated,

in me, nothing is extinguished or forgotten" (Lines 43-44)

When the speaker speaks of fire, it is either because he burns with love yet the fire can be extinguished if the lover does not reciprocate his love. It shows the delicacy and insecurity of intense love.

Another key symbol is isles, land, and shores all indicating areas near a body of water. When Neruda compares how everything reminds him of his lover to a boat going to an isle (Lines 14-15) and when Neruda describes the speaker as lifting his arms, disconnecting his roots from the shore, and seeking new land (Stanza 5), the reader can see how Neruda uses the symbols of isles, land, and shores as a way to show the fluidity in love. Waves lap at the shores of land and isles but they also recede, which shows how quickly love can be given and how quickly love can also be taken away.

If You Forget Me - Key takeaways

  • 'If You Forget Me' is a poem written by the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, in 1952 while he was in exile.
  • The poem is written from the point of view of a speaker who is warning his lover that if she stops loving him, he will stop loving her as well.
  • The poem contains six stanzas and is written as a free-verse poem that does not contain any particular meter, rhyme, or pattern and mimics natural speech.
  • The poem has warning and sincere tones and implements many types of figurative language such as metaphors, enjambment, imagery, and personification.
  • The poem focuses on the central theme of love and loss.

If you forget me Pablo Neruda

'If You Forget Me' (1952) by Pablo Neruda is a free verse poem.

It is believed, Neruda wrote 'If You Forget Me' either for his mistress Matilde Urrutia or about his home, Chile

'If You Forget Me' was published in 1952. 

Pablo Neruda's real name is Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto 

'If You Forget Me' by Pablo Neruda contains a lot of imagery that appeals to all the senses. Some examples include "crystal moon" (line 5), "red branch" (line 5), and "slow autumn" (line 6).

Final If you forget me Pablo Neruda Quiz

Question

When was 'If You Forget Me' Published?

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Answer

1952

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Question

Who wrote 'If You Forget Me'?

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Answer

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda 

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Question

Who was the poem 'If You Forget Me' by Pablo Neruda written for?

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Answer

Either to Neruda's mistress, Matilde Urrutia or to Chile, while he was in political exile from his native country.  

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Question

What kind of poem is 'If You Forget Me' by Pablo Neruda ?


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Answer


Free Verse Poem 


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Question

How many stanzas are there in Pablo Neruda's 'If You Forget Me'?

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Answer

There are 6 stanzas. 

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Question

What is the tone of the poem 'If You Forget Me' by Pablo Neruda?


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Answer

Warning and Sincere

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Question

What kind of figurative language is found throughout 'If You Forget Me' by Pablo Neruda?

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Answer

Metaphors, enjambment, imagery, and personification. 

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Question

What is an example of a metaphor found in Neruda's poem 'If You Forget Me'?

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Answer

An example of a metaphor can be found at the end of Stanza 2 when Neruda compares the speaker's all-encompassing love for his lover to little boats sailing to isles. 

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Question

What is one reason Neruda uses enjambment in the poem 'If You Forget Me'?

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Answer

To create flow and smoothness; To emphasize certain words; To create transitions between the tones of the stanzas

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Question

Why does Neruda use imagery in his poem?

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Answer

Neruda uses imagery to create a vivid, imaginative, and memorable setting for the poem. 

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Question

What are examples of imagery from the poem 'If You Forget Me'?

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Answer

"Crystal moon" and "red branch" (Line 5)

"slow autumn" (line 6)

"wrinkled body of the log" (Line 10)

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Question

What is an example of personification from the poem "If You Forget Me'?

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Answer

If each day a flower 

climbs up to your lips to seek me..." (Lines 40-41).

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Question

What is the central theme of Pablo Neruda's 'If You Forget Me'?

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Answer

Love and Loss

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