Study Guide

Ode to My Suit Lines 42-59

By Pablo Neruda

Lines 42-59

Lines 42-48

I wonder
whether someday
an enemy
bullet
will stain you with my blood,
for then
you would die with me

  • Will the two be together until the bitter end? The speaker asks someone, but we aren't sure whom he is asking.
  • What he really is wondering, though, is how he will die. Remember, the speaker has begun to consider his soul and other spiritual matters. It's no surprise he's also thinking about death here. Specifically, he imagines that one of his enemies might someday shoot him.
  • Notice that "bullet" stands alone in line 45. Neruda is using enjambment to keep the poem flowing, but naturally a one-word line will stand out a bit. Does that add to the shock of the imagery? Perhaps he wants us to feel a little startled. 
  • So, who is the enemy that he imagines shooting him? It could be a number of people or groups. Though we can't be certain Neruda is meant to be the speaker, the poet was an outspoken diplomat in Chile, and he probably had his fair share of enemies. 
  • But Neruda doesn't clarify, so we'll never really know. In any case, this enemy could prove deadly to the speaker, and this type of death is on his mind.
  • And while the suit and the speaker have practically united into one person, the speaker still distinguishes "his" blood from the suit. They're still separate entities, then. 
  • But, when the speaker dies, the suit dies with him, he figures. Even if the suit doesn't bleed, it won't be able to live without the speaker. 
  • Is the speaker wondering if the suit will actually die, or is he using the suit here as a way to ponder some big, hard questions about his own mortality? He could be doing both. Let's see if the poem's ending gives us any clues…

Lines 49-54

but perhaps
it will be
less dramatic
simple,
and you will grow sick,
suit,
with me,

  • Here, Neruda breaks up his enjambment with end stops, or punctuation that naturally causes you to pause. 
  • As you read, consider what effect these end stops have on the way the poem sounds. Does it make you pause at the word "suit" in line 53, for instance? Neruda is subtly slowing us down, perhaps so we can consider just what he's asking. (Check out "Form and Meter" for more on this.)
  • Here, he's asking if his death might not be as dramatic as getting shot, but will rather be the result of illness. To him, that's a more "simple" death, even if it takes longer. It's more closely tied with nature, or the natural course of things. So, to the speaker, dying of an illness is more simple than dying as a result of violence. 
  • Coming from a poet who saw first-hand the horrors of war, this viewpoint may not be much of a surprise.

Lines 55-59

grow older
with me, with my body,
and together
we will be lowered
into the earth.

  • We guess the speaker isn't planning on going shopping for a new suit any time soon. Here, he wonders if they'll simply grow old together, until the day he is buried in the suit.
  • Again, is this an actual conundrum, or a way to muse about mortality? We're guessing that it's the latter.
  • Notice Neruda's use of imagery in these lines. The suit and the speaker is "lowered" into the earth together with the suit. This image gives the burial scene a peaceful tone.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...