Ode to My Socks
by Pablo Neruda
Analysis: Form and Meter
Form and meter? We hate to break it to you, but this poem isn't in a specific form or meter. Did Neruda leave his poetry cap at home the day he wrote this? Nope. We think not. More likely is that this poem is a challenge to the traditional ode. The ancient Greeks and Romans followed complicated formats to write their odes, but here Neruda just throws that out and writes in short, choppy lines.
The enjambment, or mid-sentence line breaks, are what creates this short, choppy style. One thing this does is make you keep reading the long, run-on sentences, since there are no stopping points. It's like a long, woolen thread. The other thing it does is visually make the poem look like a long, skinny sock hanging on the page. What's more, these short lines are also very easy to follow, almost in an exaggerated way. Just check out line 74: "the." Right. Got it. How about line 77? "And." Woah, woah! Cool your jets there, Pablo! Our brains can only take so much.
Well, our guess is that Pablo knew that already, and he was writing against the long, super-intricate, jammed-full-of-allusions kind of lines that keep poor English students up at night. Instead, here we get lines that are short, and simple—to the extreme.
The general structure of the poem, too, is super-simple. The poem is divided into four stanzas, and each one has its own theme. The first one introduces the socks, the second compares them to lots of beautiful things, the third one talks about wanting to save them instead of ruining them by wearing them, and the fourth one gives the moral of the ode. No flashbacks, no mysteries—just a dude giving us a straightforward love poem to his socks.
Neruda's emphasis on simplicity, and his insistence against old forms, also explains why the poem has no rhyme. Here again, we have another departure from tradition. For an ode—one of the most classic forms of poetry—this poem is certainly doing its own thing! All of these nontraditional elements are ways that this ode rejects elitist, snobby poetry and tries to bring poetry back—to the people!