Study Guide

Ode to My Suit Sound Check

By Pablo Neruda

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Sound Check

Though the poem may seem totally free of rhyme and rhythm, there's one big thing we have to keep in mind: it's a translation.

Okay, Shmoopers, so you may be saying, surely there are plenty of rhymes in the original version. (After all, isn't poetry supposed to rhyme?) Our answer to you is "nope." (And, not necessarily. Don't believe us? Just check on famous poems like this one, this one, or this one.)

In the original language, we still don't have much traditional rhyming. But there are some sonic devices that might surprise you, both in the English translation and in the original Spanish. Check out lines 22-24, for instance, and try reading them aloud:

setting my hands to the task,
opening my eyes,
creasing my lips,

Did you notice all the –ing endings at the beginning of each line? Now check out the Spanish version:

labrandome los manos,
abriendome los ojos,
gastandome la boca,

In both languages, the ending of the words echo each other. Even though they don't appear at the end of the lines, Neruda is still using a type of rhyme called internal rhyme.

There's another sonic trick that appears in both the original and the translation: anaphora, or the repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of a line. Neruda uses this trick throughout the whole poem; for example, the word "and" (in Spanish, "y") begins lines 12, 25, 30, 53, 57, and 71.

These tricks, plus a hefty dose of enjambment (see "Form and Meter" for more on that one), add to the poem's overall cadence, or musical elements of the poem. Despite the fact that this poem is a pretty informal conversation between one man and his suit, Neruda wants us to know that we're still in the realm of the poetic, even when we're talking about the stuff of daily life.

See? We told you there's more than meets the eye with this one.

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