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One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII

One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII

"One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" is a sonnet by Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet and politician, in 1959.

A sonnet is a classical form of poetry that consists of fourteen lines and is written in iambic pentameter, which means an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable.

It is considered one of Neruda's most famous pieces and speaks of his love for his wife, Matilde. It was originally published in Cien sonetos de amor (100 Love Sonnets) (1959) as the seventeenth sonnet out of one hundred sonnets.

Although the sonnet is only fourteen lines long, the word "love" appears nine times, emphasizing Neruda's passionate love for his wife.

Summary of "One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII"

Below is a summary of the sonnet. Within its fourteen lines, it describes Neruda's deep and passionate love for the subject of the sonnet, which is his wife, Matilde.

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" (Stanza 1)

One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII, Love/One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII summary, StudySmarter "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" is by Pablo Neruda. Pixabay.

In the first stanza of the sonnet, the speaker tells the subject what his love is not like—such as a rose of salt or topaz. He also says his love is not like a flaming carnation arrow, sparking fiery love images. The speaker's love is deeper than physical objects. The speaker's love moves into the realm of the "shadow and the soul" which indicates this love is internal, secretive, and perhaps beyond time limits.

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" (Stanza 2)

Next, the speaker compares his love to an unbloomed flower. Even though the flower hasn't bloomed, its beauty remains within. Just as the beauty of the flower remains in all its strength within the bud, the speaker's love for the subject remains strong within his body. The subject's love for the speaker helps maintain the love within the speaker's 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" (Stanza 3)

In the poem's final stanza, the speaker declares that they don't know how or why they love the speaker. They declare they don't know where the love even comes from. However, rather than worry about the answers, the speaker loves the subject directly and does so without judgment. Because of this, the speaker and the subject almost become one. The speaker loves the subject, and that's all that needs to be said.

Analysis of "One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII"

Below you will find an in-depth analysis of "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" by Pablo Neruda.

Structure/Form, Point of View, and Tone

"One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII" has the structure of a sonnet. It contains fourteen lines. There are three stanzas. The first two stanzas are quatrains, which means they contain 4 lines each. The last stanza is a sextet, which means it has 6 lines. The structure of two quatrains and a sextet is referred to as a Petrarchan sonnet. However, Neruda does not include rhyme as an element of his sonnet. Rhyme is typical in Petrarchan sonnets.

Neruda also uses stanzas as a way to create shifts in his poems. In this sonnet specifically, the first stanza describes how the speaker doesn't love the subject. In the second stanza, the speaker describes how the speaker loves the subject. In the last stanza, the speaker declares directly they love the subject. As one can see, the subject shifts between stanzas.

"One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" is written from the first-person point of view, and the audience is the person the speaker is directly talking to you.

"I love you without knowing how" (Line 9)

Notice the speaker refers to himself as "I" and the subject as "you". Therefore, the "I" refers to the first-person point of view.

The tone of a poem refers to the author's attitude towards the subject of the poem. In "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII," the subject of the poem is the speaker's love for his beloved. Neruda adopts a passionate and tender tone. The repetition of the phrase "I love you," as well as words such as "fire," "shadow and soul," and "tight aroma," signify passion and deep love.

By using non-specific pronouns like I and You, Neruda is making the sonnet more widely applicable. Neruda's poem could be for anyone telling their loved one just how much they love them.

Literary Devices in "One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII"

Neruda uses many literary devices throughout "One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII." Most notably, Neruda uses imagery, repetition, and enjambment.

Imagery

Neruda often used imagery as a literary device in his poems, including "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII."

Imagery is a literary device in which vivid descriptions that appeal to a reader's senses help create an image in the reader's mind.

One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII, fire/One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII summary, StudySmarter One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII contains fiery images of love. Pixabay.

To describe the speaker's love for their beloved, Neruda uses imagery to help create vivid imagery for that love.

"arrow of carnations that propagate fire" (Line 2)

The image of a fiery arrow of flowers creates a bright and burning image of love in the reader's mind.

"thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose

from the earth lives dimly in my body" (Line 7)

Words such as "tight aroma that arose" and "dimly" help create a vivid image of a love that is ever-present and ever glowing.

Can you find any other example of imagery in the sonnet? What image of love do they conjure in the reader's mind?

Repetition

Neruda often uses repetition in his poems to emphasize the main subject of the poem. In particular, in "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" Neruda uses a literary device known as anaphora.

Repetition is a literary device in which authors will reuse the same word, phrase, or imagery to emphasize a key point in a written text.

Anaphora is the repetition of a word or a phrase at the beginning of multiple consecutive lines to create emphasis.

The word love is repeated 9 times throughout the sonnet.

"rose of salt" (Line 1)

"arrow of carnations" (Line 2)

"the plant that doesn't bloom" (Line 5)

"the light of those flowers" (Line 6)

The symbol of flowers is also repeated multiple times throughout the sonnet, as flowers usually symbolize love or a growing love.

One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII, flowers/One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII summary, StudySmarter Flowers are symbolic of love in "One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII". Pixabay.

Anaphora can be found in stanza 3.

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..." (Lines 9-11)

Notice how each of the first three lines of stanza 3 begins with the phrase "I love you". This reiterates and emphasizes the speaker's love for the subject.

Enjambment

Many of Neruda's poems contain enjambment.

Enjambment is when a sentence flows over multiple lines of poetry to create a sense of flow and continuity.

Many of the lines within "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" begin with a word that is in the middle of a continuous sentence. Oftentimes, the first word chosen in the line is emphasized through enjambment, which helps the reader focus on the key elements of the poem.
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul" (Lines 3-4)

Notice how the sentence flows over two lines of poetry. This indicates that this is an example of enjambment. Notice how the first word of the line is "secretly", which finds itself in the middle of the sentence. By starting the line with "secretly", Neruda emphasizes the hidden aspect of such passionate love.

Themes in "One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII"

The key theme in "One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII" is the power, complexity, and undefinability of an emotion such as love. The love Neruda feels in this sonnet he wrote for his wife Matilde, goes way beyond the surface, into undefinable depths. It is a love that can only be found in the area "between the shadow and the soul" (Line 4). Language alone is not enough to describe the kind of love the speaker feels towards the subject, which is why in the third stanza the speaker cannot find the answers to why the speaker loves, how the speaker loves, or where the love comes from.

I love you directly without problems or pride..." (Line 10)

Ultimately, the speaker decides not to question the complexity, and simply accepts the love directly.

Meaning of "One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII"

The meaning of "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" is that the love the speaker feels for the subject cannot be defined by words or simple surface-level things, such as appearance. It is a love that is deep, complex, and hidden which makes it that much more passionate, intense, and beautiful.

"One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" - Key takeaways

  • "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" is the seventeenth sonnet in the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda's book Cien sonetos de amor (100 Love Sonnets) (1959). It is dedicated to his wife, Matilde.
  • "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" is about a speaker's deep and undefinable love for a loved one.
  • It is a sonnet which means it contains fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter. The first two stanzas are quatrains while the final stanza is a sextet.
  • "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" contains literary devices such as imagery, repetition, anaphora, and enjambment.
  • A deep, complex, and beautiful love is the main theme of "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" and speaks to the overall meaning of the sonnet.

Frequently Asked Questions about One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII

 "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" adopts a passionate and tender tone. 

It was published in 1959 by Pablo Neruda.

"One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" is about a speaker's deep and undefinable love for a loved one. 

The central idea of "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" is that the love the speaker feels for the subject cannot be defined by words or simple surface-level things, such as appearance. He has a love that is deep, complex, and hidden, which makes it that much more passionate, intense, and beautiful.

Neruda wrote the sonnet for his wife, Matilde.

Final One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII Quiz

Question

When was "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" published?

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Answer

1959

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Question

Who wrote "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII"?

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Answer

Pablo Neruda

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Question

What is a sonnet?

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Answer

A sonnet is a classical form of poetry that consists of fourteen lines and is written in iambic pentameter, which means an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable. 

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Question

How are the lines organized in "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII"?

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Answer

There are three stanzas and the first two stanzas are quatrains, which means they contain 4 lines each. The last stanza is a sestet, which means it contains 6 lines. 

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Question

What point of view is the sonnet told from?

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Answer

First-Person point of view

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Question

What is the tone of  "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII"?

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Answer

It has a passionate and tender tone.

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Question

What literary devices appear in "One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII"?

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Answer

Imagery, repetition, and enjambment

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Question

Why does Neruda use imagery in  "One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII"?

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Answer

To describe the speaker's love for their beloved, Neruda uses imagery to help create vivid imagery for that love. 

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Question

Why does Neruda use repetition in "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII"?

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Answer

To emphasize the main subject of the sonnnet.

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Question

What is anaphora?

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Answer

Anaphora is the repetition of a word or a phrase at the beginning of multiple consecutive lines to create emphasis. 

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Question

What is an example of anaphora in the sonnet?

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Answer

The repetition of the phrase "I love you" at the beginning of the first three lines of stanza 3. 

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Question

What symbol is repeated multiple times throughout the sonnet?

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Answer

Flowers

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Question

What is enjambment?

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Answer

Enjambment is when a sentence flows over multiple lines of poetry to create a sense of flow and continuity. 

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Question

What is the key theme of "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII"?

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Answer

The key theme in "One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII" is the power, complexity, and undefinability of an emotion such as love.  

Show question

Question

What is the meaning of "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII"?

Show answer

Answer

The meaning of "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" is that the love the speaker feels for the subject cannot be defined by words or simple surface-level things such as appearance. 

Show question

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