Love Sonnet 17
by Pablo Neruda
Love Sonnet 17 Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line); translated by Terence Clarke
I do not love you as though you were the salt-rose, topaz
Or the carnation-arrow begot in flames (1-2)
The speaker says that he loves his paramour differently than he loves natural objects like flowers and minerals. She is, by implication, more beautiful than roses and carnations. She is almost like a work of art, better than anything nature can produce.
I love you as the plant that does not flourish, and carries
Hidden within itself the light of its flowers (5-6)
These lines contrast with the speaker’s remarks in the first stanza. There, he says he doesn’t love his paramour as if she were a flower, but here he says he loves her "as the plant that does not flourish." Does this change in attitude suggest that the speaker is changing his ideas about love and nature as the poem progresses?
And, thanks to your love, there lives darkly in me
The quickening aroma that rose from the soil (7-8)
The speaker compares his experience of love to something natural, to an "aroma" that emerges from the soil. This also contrasts with the first stanza of the poem, where the speaker says that it is impossible to understand his love in terms of one’s love for natural things like flowers. Can both be true?