Study Guide

A Song of Despair Abandonment

By Pablo Neruda


Deserted like the wharves at dawn. (3)

Why are the wharves the image that the poem uses to exemplify being deserted? Perhaps it has something to do with the way that wharves typically welcome ships into harbor, and connect with them—at least until they head back out to sea…

It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one! (4)

The wharves are deserted at the hour of departure, when all the ships leave. The speaker, too, feels like he's been left behind.

There was the black solitude of the islands, (25)

The speaker's state of mind before he met his lover was dark, lonely, and like an island that is completely isolated. Of course, after they split, he's not much happier. Maybe it's him?

There were grief and the ruins, and you were the miracle. (28)

Just as, earlier, the speaker felt as though he were on a dark, lonely, island, when he met his lover he was surrounded by sadness and ruins. At that moment she seemed like a miracle that would save him from being abandoned in the wilderness.

Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs, (33)

The woman is compared to a cemetery and tombs, a place where kisses go to die! This gives us the idea that she didn't fulfill the expectation of saving him from his abandonment, and that he was left alone after all. Of course, "there is still fire" in that cemetery. Maybe the speaker here is holding out hope for a reunion. What are the odds?

It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one. (58)

The poem ends almost like it starts: at the wharves, with the ships gone and the speaker feeling abandoned. What does this circular structure tell us about speaker's state of mind?