Form and Meter

Easy Enjambment

Well, Shmoopers, here's the plain truth: there's neither form nor meter in Ode to My Suit. Nary a rhyme or trace of rhythm can be found, even in the original Spanish version. In fact, the poem is so straightforward that it doesn't even break into stanzas.

So, what do we have instead? Well, Neruda wrote the poem using lots of enjambment, which means that the phrases continue to flow from line to line. Try reading the following lines aloud:

you flap and hum
as if you were my soul,
at bad moments
you cling
to my bones,

Despite the line breaks, our natural tendency is to keep reading without pause. Then, when Neruda wants us to take a breath, he adds end stops in the form of commas.

Sometimes, though, Neruda really wants us to take a breath and consider what we've just read. That's when he uses a period. For example:

Every morning, suit
you are waiting on a chair
to be filled
by my vanity, my love,
my hope, my body.

If you read it aloud, you'll notice that the period end stop in line 5 forces us to take a much longer pause than the comma. It's one way to get the reader to spend a little extra time on a particular image or phrase before moving to the next.

And in a poem with few stylistic tricks, Neruda's use of end stops and enjambment shows us that he wasn't just throwing the words down carelessly. Sure, he doesn't have all the fancy whistles and bells of something like iambic pentameter, but that's because he's creating a kind of informal, conversational in this poem between his speaker and the suit. The speaker addresses the suit as if they were old buddies, which in a way they are. All the same, Neruda uses the form of poetry to speed us up through certain lines and slow us down at the end of others. For more on his technique, hop over to "Sound Check."

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