The truth is this: I can’t write a decent poem to save my life. Lyrical words strain to leave my consciousness every time I attempt to write a poem, and I’m left with what my poetry professor would call absolute crap. Poetry demands a certain level of honesty that my insecurity-ridden self can’t reach no matter how hard I try. Perhaps, that is why I prefer to write fiction.
So, my hackles rose up the second the word poem was dropped into the conversation. I previously studied Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 in my Poetry class. On the other hand, I first read Neruda’s Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines when I was in seventh grade and promptly forgot about it.
Hence, I decide to give poetry another chance and looked up the three poems on the Internet.
Let me begin with Frost’s My November Guest. The first stanza:
My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.Ah, the power of love to transform ugliness into beauty. Such poignant, universal lines. When we’re in love, we think all the things that remind us of our beloved are beautiful.
I’m sad to say Shakespeare’s Sonnet 40—take all my loves, my love; yea, take them all, the usual stuff—didn’t affect me quite as much. Maybe because I’m not in love at the moment?
But Neruda’s Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines broke my heart. The poem affected me now in a way it never could have affected me at twelve. I’ve had my heart broken, bruised, and set on fire. I finally understand what Neruda—dear Pablo, we’re buddies now—was talking about when he said he could finally write the saddest lines.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another’s. She will be another’s. Like my kisses before.
Her voide. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.Oh, the confusion. The seemingly never-ending torment. Love is so short, forgetting is so long. Such simple but wonderfully loaded words. Damn it, Pablo Neruda. Why are you so awesome?
So, yes, I’m glad I gave poetry another chance, despite not being able to write a decent poem myself. If you have any heart-wrenching or heartbreaking poems to recommend, feel free to leave a comment.