Study Guide

Love Sonnet 17 Calling Card

By Pablo Neruda

Calling Card

Mysterious and Erotic Love Poetry

Neruda is one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century, and his love poetry has earned him a pretty good reputation. While he's always incredibly passionate, a lot of what he says, both in "Love Sonnet 17" and elsewhere in the 100 Love Sonnets, is a bit mysterious, even mystical. In "Love Sonnet 17," for example, he likens his feelings to an "aroma that rose darkly from the soil," which suggests that love is like some infectious odor-plant that takes over one’s whole being. That’s pretty mysterious, but also deeply erotic, not to mention strangely beautiful. This fusion of mystery and eroticism is a hallmark of Neruda’s love poetry and, arguably, the reason for its extraordinary popularity.