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A Song of Despair
A Song of Despair
by Pablo Neruda

A Song of Despair Theme of Abandonment

"A Song of Despair" is all about the speaker feeling abandoned, desolate, deserted… uh, anyone have a spare thesaurus? He is reflecting on his long-lost love, and it makes him feel as lonely as the wharves after all the ships have gone. He even calls himself "Oh abandoned one" for goodness sake. Seriously. Who does that? It's not clear if the woman abandoned him, or if he just feels lonely after their breakup, but abandonment in this poem is the name of the game.

Questions About Abandonment

  1. Why do you think the speaker feels abandoned? Do you think it's possible that he's the one who abandoned his lover? Why or why not?
  2. What images does the poem use to evoke abandonment? What images would you use in your own abandonment poem?
  3. Are abandonment and loneliness the same thing in this poem? How do both of these themes figure into the speaker's sadness?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The wharves are used as a symbol of abandonment in the poem, but we know that the ships will come back. What we don't know is if the girl will come back to the speaker. (Especially after he calls her a "pit of debris"!)

Not so fast there. The speaker calls himself the "abandoned one" in the last line of the poem, but there is evidence in the poem that suggests that he's more the abandoner than the abandonee.

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